Some of our MCCH Council members attended a teleconference on Healthy Teen Development that revealed some interesting new research (which has been abstracted previously). We were concerned because the research tended to discount the influence of religious belief on teen sexual behavior. It seemed other people had the same concern and the NIH listened enough to dig into the research a bit deeper.
Here is their press release on the results.I produced this abstract using time paid for by the Quay County Maternal Child and Community Health Council with funds from the New Mexico Department of Health.
Religious beliefs influenced whether adolescents will have sex, especially for girls. However, such beliefs only had a minor influence on whether boys had sex. As might be expected, for both girls and boys, more permissive attitudes -meaning more positive or favorable-towards sex increased the likelihood that they would have sex. Having sex did not affect boys' or girls' religious beliefs. After having sex, however, girls' attitudes about sex were likely to become more positive or favorable.
The study also found that teen boys are more likely to have positive attitudes about sex, so that having sex doesn't significantly change their attitudes, as it does girls'.
Another finding is that adolescents' own religious and sexual attitudes were more important predictors of their subsequent sexual behavior than were their parents' attitudes toward adolescent sex.
"Parents' religious and sexual attitudes don't directly affect their children's decision to have sex, but they do influence the formation of their children's own attitudes toward sex," says Meier.