Thursday, January 08, 2009

Mislead by the Media

Why shouldn't I be surprised?

It was all over the media last week: Abstinence pledgers were a complete failure. Those that took abstinence pledges had sex at the same rate as those who didn't. In fact, those that did lose their virginity before marriage were more likely to do so without any pregnancy or STD protection.

But a few days have passed and now we see a couple of articles from people who actually took the time to look at the data presented. Please go and read Mr. McGurn's article so that you can be informed the next time the topic comes up for discussion.

From the Wall Street Journal:

Like a Virgin: The Press Take On Teenage Sex
Yes, attitudes do make a difference in behavior
By William McGurn

The chain reaction was something out of central casting. A medical journal starts it off by announcing a study comparing teens who take a pledge of virginity until marriage with those who don't. Lo and behold, when they crunch the numbers, they find not much difference between pledgers and nonpledgers: most do not make it to the marriage bed as virgins.

Like a pack of randy 15-year-old boys, the press dives right in.

"Virginity Pledges Don't Stop Teen Sex," screams CBS News. "Virginity pledges don't mean much," adds CNN. "Study questions virginity pledges," says the Chicago Tribune. "Premarital Abstinence Pledges Ineffective, Study Finds," heralds the Washington Post. "Virginity Pledges Fail to Trump Teen Lust in Look at Older Data," reports Bloomberg. And on it goes.

In other words, teens will be teens, and moms or dads who believe that concepts such as restraint or morality have any application today are living in a dream world. Typical was the lead for the CBS News story: "Teenagers who take virginity pledges are no less sexually active than other teens, according to a new study."

Here's the rub: It just isn't true.

No comments: