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Teens With Religious Upbringing Are Protected From Certain Scary Risks

If you are raising your children with a religious or spiritual upbringing, we’ve got good news for you. There’s a new study that suggests families who have a little extra love and light in their lives raise teens who are better protected from the three "big risks" in their lives. In other words, they are less lively to engage in risky sexual behavior or engage in alcohol or substance abuse.

Religion still matters and it may have a very positive effect on your children, especially as they grow older. A new study suggests that although the lives of most adolescents and teens can be turbulent, religion is one aspect of their lives that remains a consistent and positive influence in their lives. The American Journal of Epidemiology have found that teens who have religious beliefs – regardless of how strongly they feel about their faith – are less likely to develop substance abuse, depression and risky sexual behaviors.

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In their study, researchers have discovered that religion appears to have a positive impact on health. Over 5,000 children took part in the survey with questions that related to religion, health, lifestyle, and environment factors. They found that 12 percent of religious teens are less likely to suffer from depression, 33 percent are less likely to use illicit drugs and 18 percent more likely to report high levels of happiness.

"The effects of religious upbringing, including both service attendance or prayer or meditation, has profoundly positive effects in protecting against substance abuse and depression as well as contributing to higher levels of happiness and volunteering," said study coauthor Tyler VanderWeele, the John L. Loeb and Frances Lehman Loeb Professor of Epidemiology at the T.H. Chan School of Public Health at Harvard University.

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In addition, 87 percent are more likely to have high levels of forgiveness and 40 percent less likely to have an STD. A further 47 percent are more likely to have a sense of mission and purpose.

Of course, many parents believe that teens should navigate their own paths when it comes to religion and their religious beliefs and are even open for it. Parents also can play a role in influencing teens' religious lives. For some teens, parents can easily serve as their spiritual support system.

Reports also indicate that while the majority of American teens believe in God and worship in conventional congregations, their religious knowledge is remarkably low. Yet, when adolescents and teens perceive religion as important in their lives, it lowers rates of cigarette smoking, heavy drinking and marijuana use.

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