Purity Rings: Shoulda put a ring on it

There’s no denying it, sex sells. Which must be exactly what the makers of the new iPhone Purity Ring application were thinking when they launched it in July this year. But in a country that still manages to have the highest teen pregnancy rate in Europe, are purity rings the answer?

In 1995 Denny and Amy Pattyn decided something needed to be done about the increasing number of teen pregnancies in Arizona, USA, so they launched The Silver Ring Thing (SRT), a programme promoting the value of abstaining from sex outside of marriage. Nearly 15 years on, SRT has grown, reaching 8 other countries, including the UK. Its popularity continues to rise with celebrities like the Jonas Brothers wearing purity rings and declaring their commitment to chastity.

The Silver Ring Thing isn’t the only purity programme – there are other church organisations doing similar things, especially in America – but it is the most well known. In 2003 the BBC ran a documentary on the work Denny and Amy were doing in America. Heather Playfoot, one of SRT’s UK Directors, watched the programme and got in touch with the Pattyns.

“I saw the UK was facing the same problems and issues as the Pattyns had seen in Arizona, so I contacted Denny and asked about bringing the show to the UK and starting a branch of SRT over here,” she says.

Based on Biblical principles the SRT programme breaks the large multimedia show into four separate sessions covering temptation, boundaries, the consequences of sex outside of marriage and God. Students meet in groups of the same sex and age to cover the course. At the end of the course students can decide whether they wish to make the commitment to abstinence and if they want a ring.

“We’d love to take the programme into schools,” says Heather, “but we just don’t have the resources. The government don’t want to give us money so we rely on unpaid volunteers to run courses across the country.”

Without funding the availability of the course in the UK is limited. There are currently plans to develop a home study pack, enabling people to do the programme on their own and for SRT to become part of the National Curriculum for sex education.

Many of the UK SRT courses are aimed at teenagers in local churches but there has also been an interest from people in their 20s and those who aren’t Christians.

So what about the Purity Ring application? For a mere 59 pence you can download the application to your iPhone or iPod Touch, accept a pledge and show the world your plans to save yourself for marriage by a spinning purity ring on your screen.

Island Wall Entertainment, the company behind the new application, believe that the digital Purity Ring will reach a whole new audience of young people and encourage them to save sex until they are married.

Company Director, Henry E Bennett said, “This is an exciting opportunity to reach a whole new generation of people, on a platform that has never been used to spread this important message.”

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