Gender and Behaviour

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Does religion affect sexual behaviour? Focus on first sexual intercourse among youth in North West University South Africa

Acheampong Yaw Amoateng


The aim of the study was to assess the impact of religion on the timing of youth transition to first sexual intercourse using a sample of undergraduate students from the North-West University in South Africa. Cox regression analysis showed that higher levels of religiosity have a delaying effect on the age at which youth have first sexual intercourse. Besides religion, gender, ethnicity, race and substance were all significantly associated with age at sexual debut. Females, Afrikaans-speaking youth, and whites were all likely to delay sexual intercourse compared to males, English-speaking and Black African youths. Finally, high levels of substance use by youth were associated with early initiation of sexual intercourse. We conclude that while religion exerts a negative influence on the timing of transition to first sexual intercourse, there is a multiplicity of other socio-cultural factors that equally affect this youth behaviour.

Keywords: Youth, Sexual Debut, Substance Use, Religion, Survival Analysis, Socialisation

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