No sex, please: we're British (teenagers). It's a Silver Ring Thing

Last night, at a time when many girls her age were already ensconced in dark corners with booze and boys, 16-year-old Brittany Taylor stood up in a Surrey church hall and declared she would not be having sex until she was married.

Brittany was among the first British teenagers to sign up to the Silver Ring Thing, an evangelical American movement which preaches abstinence with a mixture of lectures, lasers and shiny jewellery.

After a three-hour show combining comedy sketches and sermons, adolescent boys and girls are encouraged to pay £10 for a specially designed silver ring and commit themselves to celibacy until their wedding day.

The Silver Ring Thing has arrived in the UK, with a six-date roadshow which kicked off last night at the Holy Trinity Church in Claygate. The Surrey village was chosen for being typical ofmiddle England, as well as for its proximity to the home of Brittany's Canadian mother, Lana, who is one of a group of women living in Britain who raised the funds to bring the programme here.

Brittany is an articulate and mature teenager who is determined to live up to the ethos of her silver ring. "Most of my friends are on the Pill," she says. "There is massive pressure to have sex. Some of them get drunk and don't even remember having it. A lot of them have had the morning-after pill. They get into situations which I think must be really emotionally damaging and I don't want to be like that."

Brittany attends an evangelical church and believes the Silver Ring Thing will catch on in Britain. "I have had heated debates with my friends about it," she says. "Some treat it as a bit of a joke, but others are really interested. A lot of people want to wait, but feel pressured into giving their virginity away. The Silver Ring Thing gives you a reason to wait."

Fifty members of the programme have travelled from the US to preach its message of abstinence over the next month. The group's arrival has provoked debate over whether the "just say no" message could be effective, or is dangerous because it leaves teenagers in ignorance about safe sex.

Silver Ring Thing's founder, Danny Pattyn, claims current policies on sex education have not worked. "People need to understand that young people here are in trouble," he says. "When I hear about a 14-year-old girl being taken for an abortion without her parents' knowledge, I have to ask how far down the line we are going to go before we say enough is enough."

Defying predictions that the event would not attract support in Britain, more than 300 youngsters turned out. The fast-talking American compere Gerrard soon had his audience chanting "Sex is great'' with him adding the quick proviso, "As long as it is in the context of marriage''.

Some of the messages were dubious: repeated claims that condoms do not offer protection against sexually transmitted infection and inferences that most such diseases were untreatable and incurable.

However, the teenagers were soon shrieking and whooping with a fervour that would have impressed most American bible bashers. The girls in the audience seemed far more receptive and enthusiastic about the event than the boys. Eighteen-year-old Susan Jacques had decided that she was going to put a ring on. "I really believe that you shouldn't have sex before marriage,'' she said. "I think the ring will help because it will be a constant reminder of what I believe.''

Her 14-year-old sister Stephanie seemed less sure. "I'm just not sure I could keep the promise. Everyone at school is going out and getting drunk and having sex all the time. I get constantly laughed at because I'm not and because I'm a Christian.''

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Young Winstone: His ‘tough-guy’ image is a misconception
people
News
David Ryall in Harry Potter
people
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Sport
Adnan Januzaj and Gareth Bale
footballManchester United set to loan out Januzaj to make room for Bale - if a move for the Welshman firms up
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Sport
Wayne Rooney warms up ahead of the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United at White Hart Lane
football
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca alongside Harrison Ford's Han Solo in 'Star Wars'
film
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
filmIdris Elba responds to James Bond rumours on Twitter
News
Hackers revealed Oscar-winning actress Lawrence was paid less than her male co-stars in American Hustle
people
Arts and Entertainment
Ellie Levenson’s The Election book demystifies politics for children
bookNew children's book primes the next generation for politics
News
Outspoken: Alexander Fury, John Rentoul, Ellen E Jones and Katy Guest
newsFrom the Scottish referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones
film
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
Voices
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers
voicesIt has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Panel & Cabinet Wireman

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Assistant

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you have previous experience...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Administrator

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015