And early morning seminary may be part of the answer!
A groundbreaking study of American teenagers and religion conducted at UNC-Chapel Hill finds that of all the religious groups surveyed, Mormons fared best at avoiding risky behaviors, doing well in school and having a positive attitude about the future. Conservative Protestants came in second.
The study, a four-year effort, included telephone interviews with 3,370 randomly selected U.S. teenagers ages 13 to 17, followed by face-to-face interviews with a subset of 267.
The result, called the National Study of Youth and Religion, is a massive compilation of data on Protestant, Roman Catholic, Jewish and religiously unaffiliated teenagers. The study was led by UNC sociologist Christian Smith and financed with $4 million from the Lilly Endowment.
Smith reports the results in a book just published with Melinda Lundquist Denton titled "Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers," (Oxford University Press).
He found that most American youths believe in God and expect to continue in the religious traditions of their parents. Roughly two-thirds of teenagers are involved in religious activities, and 69 percent are now or previously have been involved with a religious youth group.
But while teenagers who are religiously involved fared well overall, the 2.5 percent of respondents who identified themselves as Mormon fared best when it came to traversing the choppy waters of adolescence.
"Across almost every category we looked at, there was a clear pattern: Mormons were first," said Steve Vaisey, one of the researchers involved in the study and the person who interviewed most of the Mormon youths.
Way to go, Latter-day Saint teens!
Thanks to Walter Reade for sending me e-mail about this story.