U.S. adults remain more likely to say that sex between teenagers is morally wrong (54%) rather than morally acceptable (42%). But the percentage who find it acceptable has grown by 10 percentage points since Gallup first polled on the question in 2013, including a six-point increase in the past year.
These results are from Gallup’s annual Values and Beliefs poll, conducted May 1-10. Adults with children younger than 18 in their household (39%) and those without children younger than 18 (43%) are similarly likely to find sex between teenagers morally acceptable.
Adults aged 18 to 29, whose adolescent years are not as far in their past, are the only age group in which a majority says sex between teens is morally acceptable, with 59% saying this. Older adults are less likely to agree; and adults aged 65 and older are about half as likely to find it morally acceptable (31% do).
Most liberals find sex between teens morally acceptable (60%) — more than twice the rate of conservatives (26%). Meanwhile, moderates are roughly split in their views on the moral acceptability of sex between teenagers.
Religiosity plays a significant role in Americans’ views on teenage sex. A slight majority of U.S. adults who seldom or never go to church (54%) find sex between teens morally acceptable, while a much smaller 20% of weekly churchgoers agree. About one in three adults who attend church nearly weekly or monthly (34%) find teenage sex morally acceptable.