Abstinence Study Shows Alarming Numbers, Families Coming Together to Help

by Sarah Snyder
NewsWest 9

These new statistics show that even though teenagers may promise to abstain from sex, they're still doing it just as often as the kids who never make a pledge in the first place.

And even more surprising, the ones who do make the purity pledge are less likely to use protection.

"The teen pregnancy rate in Texas is one of the highest in the Nation, the teen birth rate is the highest in the nation," Karen Hildebrand with Planned Parenthood, said.

Whether they sign a pledge or not, teens in Texas are still having sex.

"The biggest difference is that when they do have sex, it's riskier because they normally do not use birth control to prevent pregnancy or condoms to prevent STD's," Hildebrand added.

Those advocating abstinence education seem to agree.

"I think that those studies are exactly right. I think the issue here is making a commitment not to cross a certain line into a physical relationship because when you have that as your focus, people want to get as close to that line as they can and invariably end up crossing it," Purity Ball Organizer Dr. Steve Brown, said.

Planned Parenthood says it all comes down to the parents.

"Parents have the biggest responsibility with this. It is their teen's futures that they need to be looking at and considering," Hildebrand said.

That's why several West Texas families came together in hopes of strengthening family communication. In March, they'll hold the area's first "Purity Ball," a dance for dads and daughters.

"The goal of the Purity Ball is to encourage fathers and daughters to have closer relationships and talk about the issues of moral purity and talk about boys and the role they should play in our lives as singles," Brown said.

Planned Parenthood tells us purity balls haven't been studied, but there has been significant research on abstinence pledges.

"A lot of problems, and it's not just with kids who take abstinence pledges, there is just a double standard. And it's really interesting that this Purity Ball is just focused on girls and not on boys. There should be a level of responsibility expected about all decision making including those decisions about sex for boys as well as girls," Hildebrand said.

But that's something these families are hoping to change.

"There is very little emphasizing sexual integrity and moral purity and we hope maybe in a year or two we can come up with a good idea and have something like that for young men," Brown said.

Hildebrand says because the schools teach abstinence, many students don't get the information they need.

"We know that many teens are not abstaining, and they deserve the help and information they need," Hildebrand said.

They've already started a website for the purity ball. So far, 12 churches and dozens of families are signed up.

"One of the concerns of purity balls nationally is women who become sexually active to talk to their families. We want to break down that barrier and create open communication," Brown said.

And the dance isn't just for those who have kept the promise.

"All of us are human. A purity ball isn't for pure people. If it were, nobody would be there. All of us make mistakes. Instead it should be about looking towards the future and having the right priorities and making wise decisions in our lives," Brown said.

If you want more information about the purity ball and statistics about West Texas teens from the Department of Health, click on the news links button at the top of this page.