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Abstinence Dance? Are Purity Balls the Answer to Teen Sex?

In Colorado over the weekend, around 70 young women attended a debutante-style event — though they weren't announcing their eligibility. Quite the opposite. The girls and their fathers were all participating in the ninth annual Father-Daughter Purity Ball.

The event marks a commitment to remain pure and formalizes the father's role in his daughter's moral development. The dads read aloud a covenant “before God to cover my daughter as her authority and protection in the area of purity.”

Though the event is meant to keep the girls chaste, the dads like the reminder. “It’s also good for me,” said one. “It inspires me to be spiritual and moral in turn. If I’m holding them to such high standards, you can be sure I won’t be cheating on their mother.”

The annual gala costs around $10,000 to throw (financed by ticket sales) and this year about 150 people attended the purity ceremony and dance. What do the girls get out of pledging their purity to their dads? One said, “something I need from dad is affirmation, being told I’m beautiful. If we don’t get it from home, we will go out to the culture and get it from them.” The silent vows include sentiments like this one: “I promise to God and myself and my family that I will stay pure in my thoughts and actions until I marry.”

Though studies show decreased condom use among those who pledge abstinence and, um slip, is the act of making the promise publicly a step in the right direction? Is it nice that the fathers are so involved in their daughters' sexuality, or does it strike you as odd? Have you been to a purity ball?

For more pics of the event, the New York Times has a pristine slideshow.


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