Taking a pledge to remain a virgin until married may help some teenagers and young adults to delay the start of sexual activity, a study by the Rand Corporation shows. Which is more or less what you would expect, although some studies have provided conflicting evidence. In the new study Rand researchers surveyed 1461 adolescent virgins aged 12 to 17 in 2001. About a quarter said they had taken a virginity pledge. They were interviewed again one year later and after three years. By that time, 34 per cent had had sexual intercourse compared to 42 per cent of teens who did not make pledges.

Lead researcher Steve Martino comments that making a public pledge may provide extra motivation in the form of social pressure and support to remain abstinent. As such, pledges could appropriately be part of the sex education effort. The Rand report estimates that 23 per cent of US females and 16 per cent of males have made a virginity pledge. Currently, 48 per cent of high school students say they have had sex. ~ Reuters/Yahoo News, June 10

Scientists meeting in Britain this week provided a new reason for teenagers to stay chaste. It seems that they are more susceptible than older  people to certain types of cancer, including cervical and testicular cancer. The experts are still pondering the cause, but common sense suggests that immature bodies would be more vulnerable to the infections that can cause the cancers. ~ AP/Yahoo News, June 9

Carolyn Moynihan

Carolyn Moynihan is the former deputy editor of MercatorNet