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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