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01-03-2011 | Empirical Research | Uitgave 3/2011

Journal of Youth and Adolescence 3/2011

The Role of Religiosity in the Relationship Between Parents, Peers, and Adolescent Risky Sexual Behavior

Journal of Youth and Adolescence > Uitgave 3/2011
Antoinette Landor, Leslie Gordon Simons, Ronald L. Simons, Gene H. Brody, Frederick X. Gibbons


Research has documented a negative relationship between religion and risky sexual behavior. Few studies, however, have examined the processes whereby religion exerts this effect. The present study develops and tests a model of various mechanisms whereby parental religiosity reduces the likelihood of adolescents’ participation in risky sexual behavior (early sexual debut, multiple sexual partners, and inconsistent condom use). Structural equation modeling, using longitudinal data from a sample of 612 African American adolescents (55% female), provided support for the model. The results indicated that parental religiosity influenced adolescent risky sexual behavior through its impact on authoritative parenting, adolescent religiosity, and adolescent affiliation with less sexually permissive peers. Some mediating mechanisms differed by the gender of the respondent, suggesting a “double-standard” for daughters but not for sons. Findings also indicated the importance of messages about sexual behavior that are transmitted to adolescents by their peers. Theoretical and policy implications of the findings are discussed.

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