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Teen Health 411
Teen Health 411

Religion and Teen Sexual Behavior

The Journal of Adolescent Health included a recent article entitled "The role of parent religiosity in teens' transitions to sex and contraception" exploring the associations of parent and family religiosity with the timing of sexual initiation or use of contraception at first sex.

The researchers analyzed a sample of sexually inexperienced adolescents aged 12–14 years in the 1997 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY97) to test the association between multiple dimensions of parent and family religiosity and the transition to first sexual experience and contraceptive use at first sex during the teen years. They assessed the association between parent and family religiosity and the timing of adolescent sexual experience and examined contraceptive use separately by gender and race/ethnicity.

Among all sub-populations except African American adolescents, more frequent parental religious attendance was found to be associated with delayed first sex. An important predictor of delayed sexual initiation among teens was engaging in religious activities on a daily basis. Unfortunately, strong religious beliefs and more frequent participation in family religious activities was associated with males being LESS likely to use contraception at first sex.

The authors concluded that more frequent parental religious attendance and family religious activities are related to a delay in sexual initiation, however, stronger family religiosity does not translate into improved contraceptive use.

Photo credit: flaubertoplasticartist

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About the Author

Dr. Brown is a developmental psychologist specializing in adolescent health.