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Sports And Sex: Boys who play sports are more likely to be sexually active than their peers, but the opposite seems to hold true for girls, a recent study suggests. Published in the June issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, the study surveyed 611 high school students. Researchers looked at variables in sexual activity, including overall number of sex partners, frequency of intercourse during the past year, and age of first intercourse. They found that girl athletes had substantially fewer partners, engaged in sexual intercourse less frequently, and began having sex at a later age than their nonathletic female peers. "These girls have more self-confidence and are in a better position to say no," said Kathleen Miller, an assistant sociology professor at George Washington University and the author of the study. "They see their bodies as tools to be used rather than objects to be desired." The picture was different for boy athletes. They reported beginning sexual activity at a younger age, having more partners, and having more sexual experience than their nonathletic male peers, though the differences were slight.

Religion And Drugs: Religion is a major factor in whether a teenager uses cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs, a recent survey indicates. The survey, conducted by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, found that among teenagers who attended religious services four times a month, 8 percent smoked, 19 percent drank alcohol, and 13 percent used marijuana. But among those who attended religious services less than once a month, 22 percent smoked, 32 percent drank alcohol, and 39 percent used marijuana. The study, which surveyed 1,000 children ages 12 to 17, found that parent involvement in a teenager's life also curbed such habits. Teenagers who regularly ate dinner with their parents or told them where they would be going on the weekend or after school were less likely to smoke tobacco or marijuana or to drink alcohol. Parents and churches need to play a part in keeping children away from these substances, said Joseph Califano Jr., president of the New York City-based center. "[Teenagers] need to develop the moral values and individual strength to say no."

--Debra Viadero and Adrienne D. Coles

Vol. 10, Issue 3, Page 22

Published in Print: November 1, 1998, as Findings
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