NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Survey: Religion Affects Teen Sex

October 3, 2001

Morals and values are important parts of the discussion about teen sex, a new survey and report suggest. Commissioned by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, the survey found that teens say morals, values and religion play a major role in their decisions about sex.

The survey of 502 teens found:

  • Half of teens said their parents were most influential in decisions about sex while only about one in six said friends were most influential.
  • Almost 40 percent of teen-agers said that "morals, values and/or religious beliefs" were the most important factor affecting their decision about whether to have sex.
  • Concern about sexually transmitted diseases was only the most important factor for 17 percent of respondents.

The campaign also released a review of the research on religion and teen sex. Even among teens who rarely or never attend religious services, 26 percent said morals, values and/or religion was the most important factor. More religious teens are more likely to wait until they are older to have sex. However, once religious teens do have sex, they are less likely to use contraception.

The campaign hopes its report will expand the discussion of how to further reduce teen pregnancy rates, which have fallen dramatically over the last decade. The most recent pregnancy data available found about 9.4 percent of all girls ages 15 to 19 became pregnant while 6.4 percent of girls ages 15 to 17 became pregnant - down 21 percent since the peak in 1990.

Source: Laura Meckler, "Survey: Religion Affects Teen Sex," Associated Press, September 25, 2001; based on "Faithful Nation: What American Adults and Teens Think About Faith, Morals, Religion, and Teen Pregnancy," and Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, Brian L. Wilcox and Sharon Scales Rostosky, "Keeping the Faith: The Role of Religion and Faith Communities in Preventing Teen Pregnancy," both September 2001, National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy.


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