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March 02, 2005

Alcohol, Drugs no bar to teenage religion

Or that's one way to interpret this report from the National Study of Youth and Religion:

While research indicates that religiously active teens are significantly less likely than non-religious teens to engage in risk behaviors, significant numbers—between 20 percent and 40 percent—of religiously active teenagers are involved in serious risk behaviors involving alcohol and drugs. Religion in the lives of youth does mitigate such negative outcomes, but by no means does it eliminate them.

According to Christian Smith, principal investigator of the National Study of Youth and Religion, these findings highlight important information that potentially could be overlooked. "Research often reveals positive associations between religion and good teen outcomes, but this perspective puts the same data in a different light, showing that all is not well among religiously active teens," he said. "These findings are not contradictory; they simply look at the numbers from a different angle and see somewhat different things." These findings expand upon data released in the report Religion and American Adolescent Delinquency, Risk Behaviors and Constructive Social Activities. The report uses data from Monitoring the Future (MTF), a nationally representative survey of U.S. high school students.

When it comes to alcohol abuse, for example, nearly 21 percent of U.S. 12th graders who attend religious services weekly or more had gotten drunk by the ninth grade. Twenty-three percent of 12th graders who say their faith is "very important" in their lives had done the same. Of U.S. 12th graders who attend religious services weekly or more, 31 percent of them drink enough alcohol to "feel pretty high" at least half of the time that they drink, as do 27 percent of 12th graders who say that their faith is "very important" in their lives.

Posted by yudel at March 2, 2005 11:18 PM