Summary: This policy brief examined the importance of including faith based organizations in sexual violence prevention and sexual health programs for youth. A national survey of 3,400 13-17 year olds was conducted by the National Study of Youth and Religion in 2003. The survey found that 84% adolescents identified as having a religious affiliation. Also, 6 out of 10 adolescents reported they attended religious services at least once a month. From these findings, the author drew a link between the role that religious institutions play amongst youth and the mission of such organizations. Outreach to youth is a major goal of many faith based institutions and it is often found that youth who participate in their organizations’ youth based activities, gain increased self-esteem and better decision making skills. Many faith based organizations also include family involvement which can lead to more honest discussions amongst family members, with the guidance of their religious youth leaders. By joining the discussion of promoting healthy relationships, many religious organizations may overcome the perception that all religious groups hold the same extreme conservative views.
Application: This policy brief suggests that faith based organizations should be involved in sexual violence prevention strategies, and sexual health programs targeting youth because faith based institutions play an important role in the lives of young people.
Limitations: Most of the survey respondents self identified as protestant. There were also Roman-Catholic, Unitarian, Islamic, and Jewish people represented in the sample, but they were in the minority.