Rand Study Reports Teens Respond to Standards and Challenges

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A new study by RAND, the nation’s largest independent health policy research program, shows that kids who have standards and are challenged to live up to them ultimately make better decisions. Who knew? Oh, wait. Concerned Women for America (CWA) knew, along with its partners in the fight for abstinence education.

The RAND study, which surveyed 1,461 young people ages 12-17 and then reinterviewed the same group one and three years later, finds that adolescents who make virginity pledges may be more likely to postpone sexual intercourse. Out of the initial group, approximately one-fourth of the adolescents had made a pledge to remain virgins until they were married.

RAND found that among those surveyed, who were otherwise similar in respect to pre-existing factors, 42 percent of those who had made no pledge had engaged in sexual intercourse within the following three years compared to 34 percent of those who had made a pledge. In order to compare similar individuals amongst the pledge and non-pledge groups, the study looked at “pre-existing differenceson factors such as religiosity, parenting and friendship characteristics”

Interestingly enough, the study showed that, “Compared to youth who do not pledge, pledgers are more strongly religious, their parents more closely monitor their behavior, their friends and parents are more often opposed to their having sex, they are more likely to join clubs and participate in community activities, they are less likely to expect that having sex will lead to positive consequences, and they have lower sex self-efficacy.”

What do these findings tell us? Simply put, adolescents live better and make healthier choices when there are standards in place and more is expected of them. We must teach our children that there is no other option or substitute for living a life that is upright. Children need to be held to a higher standard, with authority figures that believe in their potential and ability to achieve more.

Although abstinence education has proven successful, it is not currently reaching its potential because parents and society refuse to expect much of anything from young people today. We live in a society that flouts discipline and self-control in order to please the self, telling kids that they deserve to simply have fun and do whatever pleases them at the moment.

The proponents of comprehensive sex education would argue that many in the pledger group of this study are left without knowledge of sex, and thus, are not prepared to deal with it in a “safe” manner. However, the study found that, “teens who pledged were marginally more knowledgeable about sex than teens who did not pledge and not less likely to use condoms consistently.” Therefore, the argument against abstinence education on the basis that it is dangerous because it inhibits youths’ knowledge of the subject, and thus renders them helpless in making “safe” decisions, is simply not true. If anything, abstinence education challenges our youth to rise above the status quo, empowering them to make healthier and truly safe decisions.

Sarah McQueen is an intern with Concerned Women for America’s Ronald Reagan Memorial Internship Program. For more information on this program, click here.

Editor’s Note: Dr. Janice Shaw Crouse, Director and Senior Fellow of Concerned Women for America’s Beverly LaHaye Institute, has also recently written on the topic of abstinence education in relation to a study produced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Click here to read it.

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