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Studies Available on Teens’ Activities and Attitudes

4/25/2001:   Several recently released studies are noted below that may be of interest to agencies and programs that work with adolescents.

Do Chastity Pledges Delay Sexual Activity?

The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development sponsored a study on the effects of teens’ taking a chastity pledge to remain virgins until marriage. Numerous organizations and churches began this practice in 1995. The study found that teens who took a public or written pledge began sexual activity later than peers who did not do so. The effectiveness of the pledge in delaying sexual activity—and thus risks for AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases, or pregnancy—was dependent on age. The pledge had little effect on teens 18 and older.

The study was based on the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, a comprehensive survey of 90,000 youth in grades 7 through 12. Survey details, including research design and descriptive statistics on the entire longitudinal study, are available at www.cpc.unc.edu/addhealth.

An analysis by P. S. Bearman and H. Bruckner appeared in the January issue of the American Journal of Sociology. A summary of the study on the effects of the pledge can be found on www.nichd.nih.gov/new/releases/virginity.htm.

Sixth Annual CASA Survey of Teen Substance Abuse Released

For the past six years, the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA) has annually surveyed the attitudes of teens and those who most influence them—parents, teachers, and school principals. The survey focuses on substance abuse risk and identifies factors that increase or diminish the likelihood that teens will use cigarettes, alcohol, or illegal drugs. In 2000, the clear message of the survey of 1,000 teens, ages 12 to 17, is that "hands-on" parents who set appropriate rules and expectations as well as monitor behavior have teens at substantially lower than average risk of smoking, drinking, and using illegal drugs. For the sixth consecutive year, teens said that drugs are their most important concern; one-half of those surveyed said drugs "ruin your life," cause harm, or are addictive. Only 2% were concerned that drugs are illegal.

For more details or to order a copy of the report, see www.casacolumbia.org/publications1456/publications.htm

Content contributed by Heather Banks, Editor

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