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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 January, 2004, 12:27 GMT
American Virgins
Teenagers at Silver Ring Thing event
Teenagers gather to purify mind and body at Silver Ring Thing event

It's all about abstinence.

At least, that's what the Silver Ring Thing movement is teaching teenagers in the United States.

More and more young people are pledging themselves to abstinence programmes - saying no to sex before marriage.

Established in 1995, the Silver Ring Thing is a faith-based organisation based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It's one of hundreds of abstinence movements across America that promote self-restraint rather than sex education.

This film tells the story of the kids who take the Silver Ring Thing on the road, organising rallies and events to spread the word.

Teenagers attending the events pay $12 (7). In return, they get a bible and silver ring. The ring is to be worn as a constant reminder of their pledge to remain virgins until marriage.

Erica Harold
Miss America 2003, Erica Harold, lends her support to the campaign

The movement is also part-funded by the federal government. President Bush himself is a strong supporter of abstinence programmes.

In the film, Miss America 2003, Erica Harold, is the star guest for the launch of a national programme seeking to purify the young.

In some schools in the US, abstinence is now taught instead of sex education.

But will it mean a generation of kids are learning about sex from the street and the media, rather than the classroom? This World explores the debate.

American Virgins was broadcast in the UK on Sunday, 25 January, 2004 at 2100 on BBC Two.

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