Exploring Purity Pledging In Young Adults

Exploring Purity Pledging In Young Adults

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Sex is just about everywhere you turn: it's in movies, music and magazines. However, there's an explosion of teens and young adults pledging purity under pressure.

"It's the struggle between what's normal, what's pop culture, what's happening around you, versus what's really right," says Eryka Waller.

Meet 21-year old Eryka Waller. She's a beauty with a bubbly personality and brains.

"When I put my mind to something, I'm not turning away from it," she says.

Eryka is a senior in college and looks to get her masters within the next three years. She's focused. And she has chosen abstinence.

"I think once you're really comfortable in yourself, it's like I'm not going to let myself down for somebody else," she says.

Her influence comes mostly from a strong Christian upbringing and family, but Eryka says she ultimately made the decision for herself.

"To be able to, when I have children, show them that … it is ok and it can be cool and it's not a bad thing to wait for marriage or wait for that one person," remarks Waller.

20-year-old friends, Amanda Razzi and Timothy Smith, are embarking on the same journey.

"It's hard and it can be discouraging and it can be awkward, but I believe this is what's best for me," says Razzi.

Both were introduced to abstinence in church and rely on their faith, but even with faith, they admit it can be hard to fight the feeling.

"The average kid isn't sharing the same mindset," says Smith. "I mean, if you're dating someone, I would say to really try to hang out in groups. I know that's really cliché[,] but the basement is like the devil's den. You're down there, it's dark[,] the movie's on[.] Just hang out in the light, in the family room. When you're family is there, you're not doing anything in front of your parents."

It all sounds good, but researchers say there's a dark and even dangerous side to the purity pledge. Despite young people vowing to not "lay down," sexually transmitted diseases or infections remain up.

"A lot of children or young adults will continue to say I'm a virgin. I'm a virgin, but they've had oral sex or they've engaged in anal sex," says Dr. Rosalyn Pitts. "And they don't consider that a sexual act or something that takes away their virginity. And those are very high risk behaviors."

Licensed and school certified psychologist Dr. Rosalyn Pitts gives straight talk about teens and young adults who "cheat" the pledge. She encourages parents to do more than just scratch the surface on sex talk.

"What we're finding is that while abstinence-only in my household is the expectation, we still have to equip kids with the knowledge they need, so if they choose not to stay abstinent that they can protect themselves," Pitts says.

Eryka says there are no exceptions to her purity pledge, and communication is key to staying faithful to it.

"That's one of the first things I tell people when I'm about to start dating because that's something I'm not going to change on," says Waller.

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