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Religious views and parental attitudes reduce adolescent sex

Religion reduces the likelihood of adolescents engaging in early sex by shaping their attitudes and beliefs about sexual activity. Parents’ attitudes toward sex also influence their teens’ own attitudes toward sex, and indirectly, their teens’ behavior.

 

According to an article written by the National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD), teens (particularly girls) with strong religious views are less likely to have sex than are less religious teens. This is largely because their religious views lead them to view the consequences of having sex negatively. According to a recent analysis of the NICHD-funded Add Health Survey, religion reduces the likelihood of adolescents engaging in early sex by shaping their attitudes and beliefs about sexual activity. The study also found that parents’ religious beliefs and attitudes toward sex did not directly influence teens’ decisions to have sex. Rather, parents’ attitudes toward sex seemed to influence their teens’ own attitudes toward sex, and indirectly, their teens’ behavior. When teens do have sex, their beliefs about the consequences of sexual activity become more permissive (more positive or favorable) but their religious views do not change. In particular, adolescent girls who had sex reported that they were more positive about having sex in the future. However, the greatest predictor of whether teens would have sex, regardless of their religious views or attitudes, was whether or not they were dating.1

1Strong Religious Views Decrease Teens’ Likelihood of Having Sex, National Institute of Child Health & Human Development, April 2, 2003, pp. 1-3.

 

Printed with permission from the Concerned Parents Report.

 

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