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The Problem With Promise Rings, Virginity Pledges and Purity Balls

By January 9, 2009

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Many teenage girls proudly wear a "promise ring" -- a tangible symbol that they've taken a virginity pledge and vowed to abstain from sex until after marriage. The promise ring is given to them by their parents to remind them of their pledge. Sounds like a nice idea, right?

Perhaps not if you consider the findings of a new study which reveals that those who take the virginity pledge are not only just as likely to engage in premarital sex as the average teen, but are also significantly less likely to use condoms or other forms of protection. As reporter Rob Stein noted in the December 29, 2008 issue of the Washington Post:

[A]ccording to a study released today.... [t]he new analysis of data from a large federal survey found that more than half of youths became sexually active before marriage regardless of whether they had taken a "virginity pledge," but that the percentage who took precautions against pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases was 10 points lower for pledgers than for non-pledgers.

"Taking a pledge doesn't seem to make any difference at all in any sexual behavior," said Janet E. Rosenbaum of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, whose report appears in the January issue of the journal Pediatrics. "But it does seem to make a difference in condom use and other forms of birth control that is quite striking."

What does this say about the effectiveness of abstinence-only sex education programs? The blog Perrspectives goes into great detail citing studies and statistics that indicate they simply don't work. In conclusion, founder/editor Jon Perr observes:
[The] findings from Johns Hopkins can't be good news for all those fathers who took their hopefully chaste daughters to so-called "purity balls." As the numbers suggest, these elaborate rituals and solemn pledges ultimately will fail father and daughter alike.
Related article: Teen Births Are On the Rise After Years of Decline

Comments

January 9, 2009 at 10:44 am
(1) Whiteknyght says:

I think Bill Maher summed this all up wonderfully…

“New Rule: Abstinence pledges make you horny. A new eight-year study just released reveals that American teenagers who take “virginity” pledges of the sort so favored by the Bush administration wind up with just as many STDs as the other kids.

But that’s not all — taking the pledges also makes a teenage girl six times more likely to perform oral sex, and a boy four times more likely to get anal. Which leads me to an important question: where were these pledges when I was in high school … Is there any greater irony than the fact that the Christian Right actually got their precious little adolescent daughters to say to their freshly scrubbed boyfriends: “Please, I want to remain pure for my wedding night, so only in the @$$. Then I’ll &%$# you.” Well, at least these kids are really thinking outside the box.”

January 11, 2009 at 11:24 am
(2) soso not getting it says:

that is so untrue who ever wrote this is well never mind what you are but what you need is a brain transplant

January 14, 2009 at 10:57 am
(3) Bill Arand says:

In a world where a written contract or hand shake is worthless, why expect teen girls or young adults to make a Purity + Virginity promise and live up to it. Daaaaaaaaaa yeaa.

Our leaders failed to lead wayyyyyyy back in the 60′s and now we inherit Babiessssss by the millions and unwanted.

Great Future

Bill

January 14, 2009 at 11:44 am
(4) Anonymous says:

I’m probably one of the few people who actually didn’t have sex until I got married and I didn’t have to wear some stupid purity ring. My parents, particularly my mom, did her job and talked to me about the realities of teen sex and the physical and emotional implications. She told me it wouldn’t be easy and I thank her for that. I think parents who make their daughters wear rings and have balls think that they don’t have to teach their kids about sex, which leads to them wanting it more. I also saw some of the things that happened to my fellow female classmates in high school and decided to wait.

March 3, 2009 at 7:10 pm
(5) TRUETRUEGIRL says:

MY 16 YR OLD SISTER IS GETTING A PROMISE RING AND OUR MOM IS GETTING ME ONE TO SO SHE ALREADY TALKED TO US ABOUT SEX ANDWE ARE THE ONES WHO WANTS TO GET PROMISE RINGS

April 17, 2009 at 5:38 am
(6) carla says:

First of all, sexuality is a blessing and second kids who are responsible and take precautions should be the only ones engaging in sex, not irresponsible teens. I don’t believe in abortion but it happens despite the fact. 1.pull yourself together 2. ask advice3. and remember even though you didn’t plan a child blessings happen for a reason. Every child is ablessing even if it is to a teen mom or dad.
So everybody quit villianizing good , hard working teen parents. You are not their judge.

Sex is not evil folks . it is a blessing to. who said sex has harmful spsychological repercussions for some folks yes that maybe true. but not a some of people.
I’m not a hypocrit . I just am realistic abotu kids and sex and truly believe in the responsibility of sex and what it entails in reality.
most kids won’t wait. They may say so but the truth is most likey not.(sorry parents) I agree there are probably a some who shouldn’t
my cousin was 17 when he became a da. He is a proud and happy father and the best day of his life was his son’s birth. Nothing is better than being a dad. He took control of life , and was responsible for the pregnancy and doesn’t regret being a dad one bit even if it was at 17. He wouldn’t have had his magnificient son.
Be responsible for actions and possible consequences!:)

June 8, 2009 at 2:29 pm
(7) nasa says:

hi, i was chaste until i got married. we got married when i was 18. it was the worst decision of my life… (more does not need to be said here.) And the hardest part was, is that I didnt even know it until I was suddenly left without a home, separated from my children, and forced to wake up to protect my own sanity.

this purity trend is bulls***

protect your own minds and your own personal creative freedom. having no sex doesn’t mean you are pure, just as much as having sex doesn’t means you are not pure.

this is really serious, please take it seriously

best nasa

October 29, 2009 at 12:47 am
(8) Melissa says:

More true than many want to believe. My mother did this “purity ring” and “purity promise” crap with me and my sister, and we were both sexually active before we left high school. Thankfully, my father was more open about sex and made sure his daughters could get birth control so that he didn’t wind up a grandfather too early. My mother now recognizes that all she did was drive us from talking to her about sex by making it something we weren’t supposed to do.

November 3, 2009 at 9:05 pm
(9) Dezeray says:

I think a purity ring isn’t as effective if a parent forces it upon a child. But Me personally, I made the choice to stay pure until marriage and I asked for a ring for me, not because of my parents.

March 3, 2010 at 4:13 pm
(10) Deborah says:

Well I think it depends on the person. point blank don’t take the pledge if ur not gonne stick to it. the parents should not make their children take this because it will b pointless. U have 2 make the choice not to have sex b4 marrige. if u have in ur mind that u want to have sex(that includes oral anal its all the same kids sex is sex) then u can put a leash on ur neck but ur still gonna do wt u want. the purity Pledge is for those who even if they didnt have the ring wouldn’t have sex b4 Marrige. so with that said please don’t get things messed up by saying kids who take the pledge r more likely 2 have sex. Its the person them self. if u put the ring on a horny person wt do u thinks gonne happen honest? So make shore u see both sides to thing. Please do not take the pledge if ur not gonna stick 2 it, its not just a fashion statement ok. I’m 15, I understand what i’m saying by having this ring, it will be a challenge at times yes but I must remember the promise I made to God and myslelf. Its hard work ppl. staying a virgin in a world that seems to run on sex is no joke. so think about it b4 u act.

October 28, 2010 at 6:32 pm
(11) BrownGirl says:

It just so happens that I tripped over this article trying to find a new purity ring for myself. This article is very stereotypical. It makes it seem as if all girls who choose to take the path of purity cannot control themselves or do not have good enough morals to stay pure. Obviously, the so called surveyors didn’t come to my neck of the woods. My older sister (20) and I (17) have both gotten purity rings (& we are both still pure). I chose to get a purity ring at the young age of 14 going on my 15th birthday. I chose to get my purity ring because I saw the effect of teen pregnancy in the African-American community. I did not want to be a statistic and I still don’t want to be one. I have people just like many of you doubting me. But I am very strong in my faith and I have a very strong relationship with my parents. I have many things motivating me: my craft which is track and field, my parents, my church, and some of my family and friends. I know many girls in my community- with or without purity rings- who are also abstinent. So in conclusion, I will NOT let this idiotic survey discourage me. I WILL NOT get pregnant or take part in sexual relations before marriage AS GOD IS MY WITNESS! Haters, keep on hatin’ :)

October 29, 2010 at 10:39 am
(12) spara21 says:

I think the best form of reducing teen pregnancy, or even increasing the amount of people who are abstinent, is to encourage talents and goals that the child has a real passion for. BrownGirl said that she has track and field driving her- that’s excellent… that keeps her focused on that rather than sex. For me, I’ve always loved science and wanted to be an engineer since I was in middle school. Having that goal in mind not only encouraged me to wait, but also to use protection when I did have sex. Having a baby right now is the last thing I want right now since it would get in the way of my goals.

My cousins, on the other hand, both went to a private Christian school and not only had sex before graduating high school but one got pregnant at 17 and another at 20, both unplanned and both outside of marriage. Their mother did not encourage them much at anything except being religious and pure, and look where that led them. They were essentially judged their whole lives about how religious they were. If you are trying to get your children to remain abstinent, make them feel fulfilled with what they have in life. Encourage them and support them. Teach them about sex and its consequences and protection, and let them make their own decisions from there. Don’t force anything on them and don’t judge.

December 11, 2010 at 12:07 pm
(13) Bridgette says:

In today’s society knowledge is power. If one chooses to take pledge of purity, it should be paired with intense and honest sex ed. Sex ed within the family should include basic human sexuality, spirituality and the sanctity of marriage, diversional activities, and most of LOVE. I believe firmly, if society focused more on FACTS and providing our children with a safe, nonjudgemental enviroment to explore these sacred concepts we would decrease the teen pregnacy rate, STD transmission, and the indigent population. Furthermore, If anyone enters into any agreement without a working knowledge of its components, it is more of a liablity than anything. PARENTS would you sign a contract with out reading and understanding it fully…..KNOWLEDGE. Sow seeds of purity and wisdom.

December 16, 2010 at 10:37 pm
(14) Veronica says:

I have many problems with this approach. To begin with, this movement treats sex like it’s something dirty, something that will forever “muddy” a girl if she even kisses a guy. Secondly, it assumes that if a girl goes out on a date, she will put out with the guy, as if that’s all they’re going to do. Lastly, it treats a girl and her sexuality like they’re the property of her dad first and then her future husband. According to a “Glamour” magazine article on this subject, these girls don’t go out on dates or even kiss guys UNTIL their wedding days and actually give their dads a “key” that they will then hand over to their husbands on said day. I have no problem with girls (or boys, for that matter) not dating during their teen years, but the trouble with these people is that they see love and dating in extremes: either shelter your daughter from the “danger” of dating until she gets married or let her date and totally ruin her life. I am also bothered by the fact that these dads would be willing to “war” for their daughters’ purity, as the pastor quoted in the article so eloquently puts it. A daughter’s “purity” or her sexuality is NOT some man’s property–whether he is her dad or her husband or any other man!

For further details on this troublesome trend, view the entire “Glamour” article by clicking on this link: http://www.glamour.com/sex-love-life/2007/01/purity-balls

January 28, 2011 at 3:58 pm
(15) Dad says:

Property??? Really! As a father of a 21 year old daughter and two teen boys I stand by abstinence and tell all three of them to stay pure. Today’s culture has developed into some belief that sex is a right that all people (no matter the age) should dive head first and enjoy. Television, movies, and left-wing movements have progressively (or digressively) pushed liberal objectives of promiscuity as a way of life on our society.

As a father of three, I only want what’s best for my kids. It isn’t about them being my property!!! It isn’t even about being pure if you really think about it. Kids think they are invincible and can’t be harmed by their actions. It is a medical fact that kids, especially boys, have brains that are not fully developed. This undeveloped portion of the brain is directly linked to their ability to sense a dangerous situation. Most teen boys, in fact, are willing to skate down the concrete side walk, jump off the side of a building onto a trampoline or engage in unsafe sex. So many things about life should not be rushed into, including sex. Why is sex worth waiting for? First of all, waiting to enter into a sexually active person just shows maturity. Yes, being pure is a sign of maturity!!! Knowing the affects of sexuality and understanding that to wait is better is the sign of a plain old smart person. Second, with the STD threat of today’s society, it just makes sense. People there are STDs out there that DON’T GO AWAY!!! It isn’t just about getting your jollies off, be smart. Lastly, waiting makes life better with your wife. When you enter into a sexual relationship, you give a part of yourself mentally to that person. Believe it or not, when you “join” with a person, they are a part of you forever. There is no going back and “un-joining”. Be smart! If a guy or girl you’re dating is pure, there is a treasure to be had.

January 28, 2011 at 3:59 pm
(16) Dad - Again says:

One more point, I heard a comedian say this, not a joke though.
A guy approached him regarding his purity and how old fashion it was to wait for his wife. This dude proceeded to tear him down for waiting till marriage and then started taking about all the fun-girls he had missed in waiting and how he was never going to submit himself to the archaic ritual of marriage.

This comedian replied, wow have you got it all wrong. I am not missing out on “fun-girls”. I was lucky enough to have waited for my bride. The one person I “get” to build a relationship with, connect with deeper than any other, and yes have sex with; good sex. Only this sex isn’t the meaningless pastime that you’re speaking of. Our sex is one of enjoyment. We both get to know more about each other, growing in our understanding every single day. What each likes and doesn’t, supporting each of the other’s needs and wants above our own. It’s a privilege to be able to connect this way with one person. I am truly sorry. Sorry that you will never know what sex is…

February 21, 2011 at 12:43 pm
(17) hil says:

Being pure, not being pure… what exactly is the argument again?

In this Western society, where religion can be freely chosen, where leaders are voted for by the public, and where second chances are possible, why is the argument about virginity important?

Are non-virgins automatically sent to Hell if they’re not married? Are they criminals? No. Most of the time, they’re normal people.

To parents: If you enforce a “no sex until marriage rule”, then you’re gonna have to expect one of two things: your children will follow the rule and will wait until after their wedding OR your children will seek the adventure of disobeying their parent (ESPECIALLY if the parent is strict) and will not only have sex but will have unprotected sex. If you want to be good parents, tell them “Sex can wait, but if you want to have it, use protection.”

February 25, 2011 at 7:55 pm
(18) Christina says:

This issue is important and sin no matter what kind will send you to hell, if you choice not to repent (turn from your sins). But it is important because people have lost their morals and values. Your body should not be given to just any one, yeah you say your in love but how come most relationships don’t last long after he has slept with you and why are STD’s and Pregnancy on a raise, because staying pure is precious Your Body is Temple of the most High God and you should treat it as such

September 18, 2011 at 5:46 pm
(19) Pure! says:

Alot like BrownGirl I stumbled on the article while shopping for a new purity ring, because I have worn mine out. It never leaves my finger and my pledge to God never leaves my heart! I made this promise to stay pure until marrige at the age of 15! I did this when I saw how pressured teens are in our worldly society. At the age of 17 I AM STILL PURE, and plan to be until the night of my wedding! I beleive this article is just a way of telling girls it is no use! That is CRAP! I made my pledge and will continue to incourge other teens to do the same! After all my heart belongs to God!

December 24, 2011 at 8:00 pm
(20) Joel says:

I am an 18 year old male. I have been brought up, just like many other familes, in a home where premarital sex is not right. The purity right that many people wear is nothing more that a mere symbol of their WILLINGNESS

May 4, 2012 at 8:50 am
(21) Lizardlover says:

My birthday is coming up in 10 days,ill be turning 13my dad is going to give me a promise ring this year,and i am a very country girl,and i dont like jewelry,but i have decided to wear it because it shows my commitment to stay pure until marriage,and im proud of that commitment!

May 9, 2012 at 1:41 pm
(22) Lace says:

I think these so called symbols of purity are overrated. They are just a way of selling fancy jewelry and making loads of money from fantasising parents. Verbal Sex education from parents to child and vice versa [believe it or not] is the best way to encourage abstinence. Even God does not demand his children wear ridiculous rings or necklaces to maintain their chastity. When I was a teenager my parents were not comfortable discussing sexual issues with me. If I was expected to wear a ring to fall in line with their morals and my church, I would do it hypocritically to keep the peace. The ring would be removed before my next sexual session. It is ridiculous to make such demands of your kids.

July 14, 2012 at 10:10 pm
(23) Lovergirl says:

I’m a teen girl, planning on buying a ring. Not because it was forced upon me, because I know for my own heart and sanity,I can’t just have sex and walk away from it. Sex is so glamourized these days, and it makes you feel like a loser because everyone else can’t even wait til they leave parties before having sex. Your body is the one, the only thing you control in life, and sharing your whole self like that is an honesty that I don’t feel I’m personally ready for. I told my boyfriend I wanted one, and he freaked. But he’s willing to wait, for me, and that’s love.

August 3, 2012 at 1:27 am
(24) ubyy says:

As a christian father it is my responsibility to protect my daughter. This is done mostly by teaching her about Gods Holy Word, the Bible. Which teaches that one is not to be unequally yoked with nonbelievers (which means the same Jesus, not just a jesus). Also that God chastens those who He loves, thus there are consequences to sin. Some try to play games with God, but God always wins. There are reasons He say not to do certain things and reasons He says to do other things. When we decide we know better than God, we get ourselves in a lot of trouble. This is why the divorce rate is so high, and why there are 3,500 babies murdered by abortion every day. A ring wont fix the problem, but it serves as a simple reminder that her father is her authority and he is responsible for protecting her until he passes that responsibility on to her husband. Gods way is the only right way.

October 1, 2012 at 1:51 pm
(25) custom titanium ring says:

Wow that was unusual. I just wrote an very long
comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t appear. Grrrr… well I’m not
writing all that over again. Anyway, just wanted to say wonderful
blog!

October 14, 2012 at 10:56 am
(26) Ruth says:

Her article proves to be statistically correct. But, when someone GETS a promise ring, statistics, facts, and other things of this world don’t matter. The percentage might be low, but I don’t think you should underestimate the HUGE difference it can make in just a couple people. Like, “TRUETRUEGIRL” says (comment #5) I also decided that I want a purity/promise ring. NO PARENT SHOULD FORCE IT ON THEIR CHILD, BUT INSTEAD EXPLAIN IT TO THEM & MAKE THEM UNDERSTAND. Since, not everyone in this world knows about the consequences or about the things it could lead to; some parents force it on their children, or expect them to be okay with it just because they were. I wish someone would write an article about the ways, reasons, & morals of using a purity ring, to perfect it. /: WE’RE BROTHERS, WE SHOULD HELPING EACH OTHER OUT AND NOT PUTTING EACH OTHER IN TOUGH SITUATIONS. (: just saying #YoungPeopleRevolution

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