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Summary: Values Matter

Morals, values, and religious beliefs play an important role in teensí decisions about sex.

  • In an effort to gauge the nationís views about faith institutions, morals, and values--and the role they should play in helping prevent teen pregnancy--the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy commissioned International Communications Research to conduct nationally-representative surveys of both adults (age 18 and over) and teens (age 12-17). The survey makes clear that morals, values, and religious beliefs play an important role in teensí decisions about sex and that a clear majority of adults and teens believe that churches, synagogues, and other houses of worship should be doing more to help prevent teen pregnancy. The survey found three major highlights. The first highlight was that religion is important. More than eight out of ten adults (86 percent) and teens (84 percent) say that religion is important in their lives. Half of teens surveyed (51 percent) said they attend religious services weekly. The second highlight was that morals, values, and religious beliefs are important influences on teens, but religious leaders are less so. When asked what factors most affect their decisions about whether to have sex, teens cited morals, values, and/or religious beliefs more than any other source. When asked who most influences their decisions about sex, teens cited parents by a wide margin. Only 6 percent of teens surveyed said ministers, rabbis, and other religious leaders. The third highlight was that Americans want more involvement from churches and other houses of worship in teen pregnancy prevention. The overwhelming majority of adults (75 percent) and teens (72 percent) believe that churches and other houses of worship should be doing more to help prevent teen pregnancy. Even those adults (62 percent) and teens (65 percent) who say they attend religious services infrequently, if at all, believe that houses of worship should be more involved.1

1Faithful Nation: What American Adults and Teens Think About Faith, Morals, Religion, and Teen Pregnancy, The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, September 2001, pp. 1-12.

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