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More than 1,200 missing in the California wildfires. Also on the Monday rundown: A pair of reports on gun violence in the nation; and concerns that proposed changes to 'Green Card' rules favor the wealthy.

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Report: Virginity Pledges Help Teens Delay Sex

September 2, 2008

Nashville, TN – What does it take to make teens "just say no" - to sex? A recent Rand Corporation report finds that teens who sign up for what are called "virginity pledges" are more likely to abstain from premarital sex than their peers who don't take such pledges, with the effect still evident three years later.

It doesn't surprise Mark Huffman, vice president of education and training for Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee. He says the study shows how those pledges can be a positive part of comprehensive sex education, with the goal of encouraging young people to delay sexual activity.

"One factor that helps a person meet a behavioral goal they have, is a clear statement of his or her intentions."

Earlier research cautioned that teens who make virginity pledges may be less likely to use condoms during their first sexual experiences, but this newest study finds that isn't the case. The study authors also conclude that pledges are not a substitute for comprehensive sex education. Huffman says providing all the tools helps teens form healthy relationships.

"The programs that have been proven to be the most effective at actually achieving abstinence among teens are those that include thorough, comprehensive, medically-accurate information about both abstinence and protection."

Huffman says many virginity pledges are part of faith-based programs - an environment that can be supportive for teens. However, he encourages parents to examine the programs closely to make sure the messages fit with their family values, since most do not teach about pregnancy and disease prevention.

The study can be found at www.rand.org.

Barbara Dab/Kevin Clay, Public News Service - TN