Is there proof that Catholic eduction helps moral development in adolescennts?

Can anyone help me find proof that attending Catholic schools (or even any Christian schools) as opposed to public schools helps in the moral development of adolescents? thank you

I have not experienced it in the majority of the young people I have interacted with.

I think you’re going to have to define Catholic/Christian schools. Do you mean the ones that are truly Catholic?

If you mean the ones that are truly Catholic, I see a (big) difference. You asked for proof, however, and my experience is not proof.

I just can’t imagine the way to get kids to know something is to not teach it to them.

A school that is STRONGLY and OVERTLY Catholic (old fashioned, taught by nuns or brothers, praying in class, going to Mass, teaching from the CCC kind of Catholic) or just a school that is named Catholic where the kids are taught by hired non-Catholic or even non-Christinan teachers but there is a crucifix on the wall kind of schools - which one?

By far the biggest infulence on the moral fiber of adloescents is the family. When faith is both taught and caught at home, from both parents - and importantly a strong faithful Catholic father.

My experiences in Catholic high school would say no. But then again, my own faith was strengthened by my experiences, so it depends on the character of each student and their upbringing.

I don’t think all of the teachers at that school were Catholic, but even the Catholic ones didn’t behave like I think Catholic educators should. The band director put on Catholic airs at competitions and in front of the parents, but if you weren’t rich enough you were nothing. Other teachers were fine and cared about the students, but there were those who were rotten, even the sophomore/senior theology teacher who was a jock at heart and the freshman/junior theology teacher who knew more about Catholicism than the pope.

I don’t talk to anyone about my experiences there because no Catholic outside of my family would believe any of it.

Part of the problem is that there is precious little Catholic education any more. No education in knowledge of Catholic teaching. and not much Catholic schooling either.

Home schooling is under attack.

Take a look at this article. It is about knowledge of Catholic teaching in Italy. A friend sent it to me; don’t know where to post it, but this thread seems as good as any.

From Times Online
April 29, 2008
Catholic Italy lacks knowledge of faith

(Chris Helgren/Reuters)

Richard Owen of The Times in Rome
Italy professes to be a Catholic nation - but a majority of Italians do not know “even the most basic facts” about the Bible, according to a survey.

The international poll, conducted by Eurisko for the Catholic Biblical Federation, showed that in Italy only 14 per cent of those questioned were able to answer a series of questions about the Bible correctly. They included whether Moses or St Paul featured in the Old Testament, whether Jesus had written any of the Gospels, and whether the Gospels form part of the Bible. Another question which defeated most Italians was: which of the following - Luke, John, Peter and Paul - wrote the Gospels?

Among the respondents 88 per cent of Italians described themselves as Roman Catholics, three quarters said they kept a Bible in their home, and 79 per cent said they felt their lives were “protected by God”. But only 32 per cent described themselves as “regular churchgoers”, and only 28 per cent thought the Bible should be taught in schools.

Whereas in the US 75 per cent of Americans claim to have read a Bible passage recently, in Italy the figure is 27 per cent. Vatican officials said the survey, co-ordinated by Luca Diotallevi, a Rome University sociologist, offered “food for thought” for the Synod Bishops in Rome this autumn on the Word Of God, where its implications would be discussed.

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"In the beginning was the Word - but the Italians don’t read it" said La Stampa. Monsignor Vincenzo Paglia, Bishop of Terni and head of the Catholic Biblical Federation in Italy, said the findings “offer a challenge to which we must respond”.

Professor Diotallevi said the results reflected the “growings secularisation” of Western society.

Monsignor Gianfranco Ravasi, head of the pontifical Council for Culture, said it was a pity the survey had not included the Vatican itself, where “it might well have produced some surprising results”.

The XII Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, to be held from 5-26 October and presided over by Pope Benedict XVI, has as its the theme “The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church”.

Have your say

I have a friend who identifies herself as Catholic and who recently objected to her sister marrying a Baptist. I pointed out that my friend never goes to church and owns no Bible and asked what she really knew about religion. “I know we’re not supposed to marry Baptists” was the answer.

jon livesey, Sunnyvale, CA/USA

Why the Times spends a lot of money for Richard Owen corrispondt from Rome? Catholics read New Testament, about Jesus Christ, not the Old Testament, the BIble. The Jews and the protestantes read Bible, Christians believe in Jesus Christ child of God.

clara, rome, italy

It’s all true. As a life long atheist I’m constantly amazed how clueless Italians are when it comes to the bible. Those who do profess to being pious turn out to be nothing more than credulous. How else can one explain the phenomena of Padre Pio & Silvio Berlusconi. They’ll believe anything.

Fipo, Padova, Italia

“If the Pope takes all his wealth and gives it to poor … I could think about change my mind.”

No you wouldn’t.

People use excuses, etc. like this n evolution inorder to justify choosing against God - but neither oppose faith in Him.

People don’t like implications of God’s existence.

Nathan, Inverness, UK

Let’s face it. Most followers of most faiths are ignorant of most of their religion’s supposed tenets and beliefs. Religion for most is an add-on they inherited, along with a national identity and football team. People float along happily in ignorance.

frank, sydney,

I am Italian and I am not religious. Baptism, Comunion and Confirmation were given to me, but I just don’t feel Catholic.
Church is one of the richest istitution in the word. If the Pope takes all his wealth and gives it to poor people all over the word, maybe I could think about change my mind.

gaia, Torino, italy

Bit like Labour supporters, then. Don’t confuse me with facts.

Andrew Milner, Karuizawa, Japan


Birthrate below the replacement level.

No training or education in Catholic history or morality or anything else.


Thank you all for your responses and opinions. I agree few schools are really Catholic anymore and most Catholics don’t really know their faith. This is why I am studying to become a high school religion teacher after 28 years as a forensic scientist.

But what I am trying to find for my graduate class in adolescence is data from a study that may have found that children who attend Catholic schools are less likely to end up in jail, or get pregnant, or less likely to cheat, and so on.

Does anyone know of data or studies like this?

thanks again,


Yes there is something called “ACER” (sp??) test. It is a test given to all 5th and 8th grade Catholic students. The results are very interesting.

Stay-at-home Dad of 3… is me!

Why are we always trying to put the blame on schools? Public, Catholic, Christian, Private… whatever.
When are we going to take respondsibility to raise our children ourselves? I mean come-on… we throw them in daycare at 8 weeks, then K-12, and yes sometimes there is sunday school or CCD classes but come-on… be real ! They spend so much time out of our care… who’s morals do you think they are being taught… not yours… they aren’t with you all day.

What happened to teaching our children right and wrong and manners and patients and morality !! It kinda burns me up when people try to pass the blame on other “institutions”. It is not their real resaon for being.

It is our reason as parents to take the time and teach our children the morality and teachings of the church. We are the domestic church in our homes. We should be our childrens first example of the Catholic Faith. When they are at a proper age and you see something on TV or hear about something that is immoral or goes against church teaching you should have a discussion about it and not just that it is wrong but WHY it is wrong. Look it up in the Bible or the CCC.

Don’t just sit there and expect others to teach our children.

Take the time and Just Do It !
(stepping off soapbox now… sorry for the rant):wink:


BUT, this was a very very good rant. Excellent.

Well worded and right to the point.

Actually, it’s kind of short to qualify as a full-fledged rant.

Read some of mine … and to quote that Australian guy with the knife … Crocodile Dundee … “Now THAT’s a rant!”

Brother Rich, You said, “Yes there is something called “ACER” (sp??) test. It is a test given to all 5th and 8th grade Catholic students. The results are very interesting.”

Could you point me in a direction where I might find these results? I googled ACER and it is an Australian Council for Education Research. Thank you for your help!

Paul and Al,


I may be a little biased because I went to a public high school, but I saw no difference in the behaviors of students in public high school and those in a Catholic high school. In fact, at times I felt like the Catholic high school students were more poorly behaved than public school students - swearing much more frequently and being unsportsmanlike when participating in athletics.

Overall, I think you may be able to find evidence that Catholic high school students are less likely to go to jail, deal with teen pregnancy, ect. But I think you need to consider outside factors as the reason for this. Parents who are able to send their children to Catholic schools are normally better off. They are usually suburban families and they have instilled their children with good faith and morals before they even enter school. On the other hand, there are more lower class families who send their children to public school, and more inner city kids in public school, and as we know, these demographic groups are the ones more likely to go to jail, become pregnant as teenagers, drop out, ect.

So you can’t just rely on a study that says Catholic high school students are more likely to become upstanding citizens, because the background of the students is the biggest factor in that, not what high school they went to.


When you have parents who drop their kids off at Catholic School, pay tuition, etc and expect them to come out faithful Catholics…well, that’s not how it works.

Just because your children are in Catholic Schools doesn’t mean they are going to have a stronger Faith … it all begins at home.

So no matter where my children may go to school and yes, right now they are in a Catholic School, I still listen, watch and am very attentive to what they are being taught about the Faith, I trust no one! And it’s up to me to teach them, what school doesn’t or does teach them, it’s up to me to make it right and fill in the gaps.


Oh, and I am praying for our school right now. I would love to see Nuns come back, good orthodox Nuns like it was about thirty years ago.

It is very important that the parents have a strong Catholic faith and practice it. If that isn’t in place first, then dropping them off to go to Catholic school might help plant some seeds, but it is unlikely that they will become committed Catholics unless they see it in their parents.

I asked someone who teaches in the Catholic school. They said that it was the ACRE test given by the NCEA.

I for one went to public school; it would have helped in that I would have known more about my faith if I went to a Catholic school, but my experience has given me greater ability to spread my faith than I probably would have if I was more often around those who already practiced it

Look at this:

National Study of Youth and Religion (NSYR) Analysis of the Population of catholic Teenagers and their Parents: A Research Report Produced by the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry

Look in section 3- you might be surprised.

Thank you ElectricMayhem,

That is exactly what I was looking for!


NORC based in Chicago has done at least two studies in this area and correlated results with similar studies in Europe. The answer is that Catholic schools provide a foundation superior to that formed by any other formation program. Catholic school education develops a deeper prayer life, better attendance at Sunday Mass, more generous donation to the Church, more faithfulness in marriage, etc, etc.
For details check out publications by Dr. A. Greeley, PhD. His sociological studies of American Catholicism are quite revealing of a profound and lively faith at work in the American Church.


Based on just observing the youth from my local Catholic high school, (and Catholic grade schools) I would have to say yes. On any given Thursday at our parish you will find a group of high school students attending Mass as a group. The high school has a voluntary daily spiritual program during Lent; hundreds of the students attend, even on Saturday mornings. Since it’s extracurricular, they have to get up earlier on schooldays to attend the devotions, and they do. This group on their own initiative organized a Divine Mercy Sunday service at our parish, (but for the whole diocese). I’m just way impressed with them.

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