Teens Wear Chastity Rings

Peer pressure may not be as persuasive as the silver rings being worn by a group of teens as a reminder of their pledge to wait until marriage to start having sex.

Nearly 25,000 teens have taken the vow of chastity with the group, Silver Ring Thing. The ring is worn like a wedding ring to symbolize their vow of chastity.

"It's a constant reminder on the young person's hand that they've actually made a decision about this," Silver Ring Thing founder Denny Pattyn told Good Morning America.

Pattyn said while kids can be trusted to remember, they "have a lot of information in their head, but that doesn't stop them in the back seat of a car"

"I've been wearing the ring for about 7 years now," said D.J. Shooter, a sophomore at Yale University in New Haven, Conn., who first slipped it on his finger at age 12. The football player said he and his girlfriend of four years agree sex is something to hold for marriage.

He admits it's not always the easiest decision to uphold. "There's a lot of times where you can kind of get caught up in the moment, a lot times I'll just kind of rub it or see it and it will remind me of the commitment that I made with my girlfriend," said Shooter.

What They Say at School …

With so many teens engaging in sexual intercourse, the chastity ring could sound like a fairly unpopular choice around the locker room.

In 2003, 47 percent of high school teens were sexually active, according to the CDC.

"I do get comments a lot, but they don't bother me," said 16-year-old Jordan Payne. She will be a high school junior in Braintree, Mass., in the fall, and made the pledge as an eighth grader.

"It made sense to me," said Payne. "I don't see a downside to waiting until you're married to have sex. You're healthy, you're disease free."

After wearing his ring for so many years, Shooter said he would probably face pressure from his friends if he showed up at school without it. "If I were to lose it, then yeah, I'm sure they would question me about it because I've worn it for so long," said Shooter. Payne said she's frequently warned when she goes to college her pledge "won't last." But, she notes, she heard the same taunts in the eighth grade about carrying out her promise through high school. The perky blonde confidently reminds anyone who questions her faith, "I'm still going strong."

Success Rate Questioned

When the teens take the pledge they're not making it alone. They can go to a rock concert event sponsored by Silver Ring Thing, with loud music, flashy lights and the chance to buy T-shirts and other memorabilia to generate enthusiasm for their pledge

And in the United States, Silver Ring Thing (www.silverringthing.com) is just one of several abstinence groups, among them the True Love Waits movement, which has singed up more than a million teens in the past decade.

But do these pledges stick?

A Columbia University study of 12,000 teens found 88 percent of those who took an abstinence pledge had sex before marriage. And those who did were 20 percent less likely to use a condom.

Responded Pattyn: "I can't speak for other statistics. We have not been evaluated. And we believe if we were we would be shown to be very successful." According to the group's Web site, a pledge with the Silver Ring Thing suggests a 12-step program for members to help them maintain their vow. "Our program is different. We work on a lot of follow-up," said Pattyn. "We have a major campaign to really invest in communities. We set up an infrastructure in communities to support young people once they put on the ring."

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