Children with religious education have fewer chances of engaging in substance abuse

An American Journal of Epidemiology study shows children with a religious upbringing tend to enjoy better mental and physical health as they grow older. The study, bearing the name Associations of Religious Upbringing With Subsequent Health and Well-Being From Adolescence to Young Adulthood: An Outcome-Wide Analysis, was made with the help of T.H. Chan School of Public Health of Harvard University. The study found that both children and adults engaged in spiritual practices or religious activities were at a much-reduced risk of substance abuse complications and mental health issues all through their lives.

The Longitudinal data from the above study were analyzed through the application of generalized estimating equations. Sample sizes varied from a minimum of 5,681 respondents to 7,458 respondents. The numbers depended on the outcome with a median age of about 14.74 years. The follow-up time ranged from a minimum of eight years to a maximum of 14 years. The study began in 1999 and subsequently was followed up in 2007 or 2010. Some respondents were checked again in 2013. Errors of multiple testing were negated by Bonferroni correction.

A number of factors controlled the models, like maternal health, sociodemographic characteristics, and the prior values of outcome variables when sufficient data were possible. It was seen when compared with zero attendance, a minimum of a single attendance every week with religious services had a positive correlation with a better perception of quality of life. Other benefits include the greater strength of character and fewer chances of marijuana use. Incidences of early sexual initiation get reduced. The number of sexual partners in life gets reduced. Similar results were obtained when the subject regularly engaged in periodic meditation or prayer. It is evident those who regularly attended religious programs have the advantage of larger support and development avenues. These culminate in better well-being and health.

Going deeper into the study reveals some interesting nuggets of information. Children who regularly went to church are about 18 percent more probable to being happier when they are in their 20s compared to those children who rarely went to church. Church-going children volunteered more, with a 30 percent more probability of volunteering compared to non-religious children. Children with a religious upbringing will be 33 percent less probable to abuse drugs.

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