Humbled By Religion: Does Attachment to Religion Influence Adolescent Violence?

Rebecca Bernard



     Imagine sitting next to members of the Klu Klux Klan in a pew at a local Protestant Church or members of Al Qaeda in a local mosque. The members of these terrorist organizations are even wearing the dress that they are famous for: white pointy hats and turbans. While this is interesting to visualize, chances are that this scenario will not take place often; however, it is possible that you may encounter a secretly violent child in the pew next to you. How possible is that? David Newell said in his article Religion and Violence, ''just because many of the people who engage in violent acts'happen to be religious'does not necessarily mean that religion causes them to act as they do' (Newell, 2006). That being said, can religion affect a child in a way that makes them less violent, or less prone to violent actions? Through recent violent acts committed by so called 'religious groups' (KKK, and Al Qaeda), more attention has been given to how religious doctrines lead to violence among members. Truth be told, all major religions are peaceful in nature; therefore, research will be done to explore whether children are less violent when they are more religious.
     Before the coming of Christ, Jewish people followed the Ten Commandments. After Christ came, Christians followed the Ten Commandments.  Exodus 20 in the Bible states these commandments: You shall have no other gods before Me, you shall not make for yourself an idol, you shall not take the name of the Lord in vain, remember the Sabbath and keep it holy, honor your father and your mother, you shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not bear false witness against your neighbor, and you shall not covet your neighbor's house. Islam is also a peaceful religion. Throughout the Quran there are verses that demand peace. Peter Standring quoted Sulayman S. Nyang (a scholar of Islam) saying, ''The Koran is very specific with regard to the nature of human struggle, because in order for a human to be at peace with himself, they must control their baser instincts'' (Standring, 2001). This means that, as humans, we struggle, and we have to fight to stay peaceful. That being said, Muslims are a peaceful people because of the command they are given to remain as such. To explain further, look to the social bonding theory. This theory, developed by Travis Hirschi in 1969, states four elements that prevent people from engaging in deviance and crime: attachment, commitment, involvement, and beliefs. All four elements will be used to explain why adolescents who are more religious are less violent: attachment, commitment, involvement, and belief. In one way or another, each of these states that everyone has a certain interest in other people. Basically, when a child is interested in the doctrine and rules of their particular religion, or committed to helping those around them within their place of worship, involved in the activities within their place of worship, or attached to the ideals and/or people within their place of worship, they are more likely to follow them: leaving them usually less violent.
     While it is important to look at these findings to understand the effect that religion has on a child's disposition, there are more factors that could deal with a child being less violent or factors contributing to why a child is violent. Either way, the peaceful and loving nature of all religions could have an effect on a child, making him or her more peaceful and loving. Studying adolescents' religious commitment gives insight into why children develop the personality characteristics they do because religion is such an intimate part of participants' lives.
     Usually, religions of the world contain a peaceful aspect that leads its followers to obtain a peaceful disposition. Due to writings in the Bible, the Quaran, and other holy scriptures, we know this to be the truth. While there are people that break free from the teachings of their religion and act in an opposite manner, these people are usually the exception and not the rule. If that is the case, is it possible that children brought up in religious situations are less prone to violence? Through dissecting Hirschi's social bonding theory, this article will attempt to answer the aforementioned question.

Social Control Theory
     In 1969, Hirschi developed a theory as to why deviance exists or does not exist: the Social Control Theory. According to Michael A. Cretacci in his article 'Religion and Social Control: An Application of a Modified Social Bond on Violence, 'The foundation of the theory is that involvement in conventional institutions and relationships acts as insulation against harmful behavior' (Cretacci, 2003). Cretacci also said, ''Hirschi explained the fundamental question that the theory seeks to address ' 'Why don't they do it?' ' is different from the one that is asked by other theories ' 'Why do they do it?' (Cretacci, 2003). This theory contains four parts: attachment, commitment, involvement, and belief. Attachment implies that adolescents are attached to the relationships they have and it is not likely that they would wish to hurt the people they are in relationships with. Commitment refers to keeping and attaining goals. If there is a goal to reach, an adolescent will work hard to reach it and therefore not be delinquent. Involvement states that if an adolescent is consumed with pursuing an activity he or she will not have time to commit delinquent acts. Finally belief suggests that each adolescent has a view on the rules of society. When those are strong, the adolescent will not engage in delinquency. If those are weak, an adolescent is likely to engage in delinquent activities.
     Many researchers have used Hirschi's social bonding theory in past research to explain their findings (Wang, 2006, Ozbay and Ozcan, 2008,  Rebellon and Gundy, 2006, Berends, 1995). For starters, Guang-zhen Wang wrote an article on tobacco, alcohol, marijuana and drug use among school aged children and using Hirschi's bonding theory to explain his findings. In his research, Wang used commitment to school, involvement with peers, content about life, and attachment to parents (Wang, 2006) as variables. Through asking the child subjects a series of questions referring to each area of Hirshchi's social bonding theory, Wang gained knowledge on how attachment, involvement, commitment, and belief have an effect on a child's delinquency. In the end, he found that Hirschi was right in his assumptions that social bonding does predict a child's delinquent behavior (Wang, 2006). He found that his variable 'commitment to school' had the largest effect on a child's tobacco, alcohol, and drug use. In contrast, Wang discovered that his other variables have little or no correlation to a child's tobacco, alcohol, and drug use. In the end, he found that peer influence is over estimated. (Wang, 2006)
     Ozden Ozbay and Yusuf Ziya Ozcan used the social bonding theory to compare delinquency between male and females in their article, 'A Test of Hirschi's Social Bonding Theory: A Comparison of Male and Female Delinquency' (Ozbay and Ozcan, 2008). The point of their comparison was to see if social bonding theory could explain delinquency among males and females equally. During their research, they surveyed 1,710 high school students in Ankara, Turkey. Similar to Wang, Ozden and Ozcan used a series of questions to determine the importance of each area of the social bonding theory (attachment, involvement, commitment, and belief). Both researchers found that when it came to assault male students were more involved than females. Both sexes have attachment to parents; however, females tend to have higher respect for teachers and police, higher commitment to school, better choice in friends, higher rates of family supervision and more conventional beliefs (Ozden and Ozcan, 2008). Although females tend to be less delinquent, they found that the bonding theory explains male and female delinquency equally.
     Rebellon and Gundy (2006) conducted research using the social bonding theory to discover if using marijuana can lead to using other illegal drugs. Through a longitudinal study, Rebellon and Gundy came to their findings. This study contained 1,725 American students ages eleven to seventeen. They asked a series of questions to identify a student's attachment to his or her school, attachment to his or her family, commitment to achieving a good education, commitment to his or her family, involvement in school and in family (Rebellon and Gundy, 2006). They predicted that response would be lower to those that engaged in marijuana and harder drug use. In the end, they found that when a student is low in social bonding, they are high in using both marijuana and other illicit drugs (Rebellon and Gundy, 2006).
     The last of the research using social bonding theory was done by Mark Berends in 1995. He looked at whether 'educational stratification practices polarize students into pro- and anti-school orientations' (Berends, 1995). 'Education expectations, attendance patterns, problems of discipline in school, and engagement in schooling' (Berends 1995), were all used as dependent variables within the study. When a child sees school in a positive light, they usually obtain a commitment and belief towards the educational system. When a child exhibits attachment in school, they do not interrupt their classes and they attend regularly. Involvement comes into play when a child actually does their school work and is not negative about it (Berends, 1995). By the end of the research, Berends found that those students that have higher attachment, commitment, involvement and belief towards schooling are less likely to drop out than those students that do not.
     Even though there has been much research involving Hirschi's (1969) social bonding theory, there is still a need to use this theory to explain different aspects of the world around us. When it comes to young people and what causes or hinders their delinquency (whether it is drug use, school attendance, or violent acts) the usage of this theory has proven very helpful. The above findings have proven that the theory is highly usable and successful; therefore, this article will also be using Hirchi's theory to examine delinquencies among those who are religious.

Adolescents' Violent Behavior
     There are many theories as to why adolescents end up engaging or abstaining from violence. After some research I came across a few articles that attempted to explain a source of violent behavior in one way or another (Clemente, Espinosa & Vidal, 2008, Frey, Ruchkin, Martin & Schwab-Stone, 2008, Boden, Fergusson & Horwood, 2007, Beaver, 2008, Becker and Grilo, 2007). Each of these articles correlated violence with a different variable: media, transitioning, self-esteem, sexual abuse, and hospitalization.
     Clemente, Espinosa, and Vidal did research and their findings were presented in an article titled, 'The Media and Violent Behavior in Young People: Effects of the Media on Antisocial Aggressive Behavior in a Spanish Sample.' Their sample included ninety-three adolescents under the age of eighteen. These adolescents in the sample answered questions regarding their internet, video gaming, and television habits. Also, there were questions referring to anti-social behaviors. They hypothesized that these types of media would greater affect violence in males than in females. In addition, they hypothesized that, overall, the internet and video games will turn more towards violence than will television (Clemente, Espinosa & Vidal, 2008). In the end, Clemente, Espinosa, and Vidal found that adolescents who engaged in gaming were more likely to exhibit aggressive behavior than were adolescents who did not engage in gaming. Also, while there was no significant difference in media use among males and females, they found that males tended to become more aggressive as a result of the types of media. In addition, television did have less of an impact on all participants' aggression in comparison to internet and gaming (Clemente, Espinosa & Vidal).
     In contrast, Frey, Ruchkin, Martin, and Schwab-Stone (2009)  looked at the effect of transitioning towards violence in adolescence in their research titled, 'Adolescents in Transition: School and Family Characteristics in the Development of Violent Behaviors Entering High School.' In this study, they used a sample of 652 minority, inner-city youths that were transitioning from middle school to high school. According to all four researchers, children that grow up in inner-cities usually experience more violence than other children that grow up elsewhere. Their hypothesis was that children that experience more 'parental warmth, supervision, support, and involvement' tend to be less prone to violence regardless of their community situation (Frey, Ruchkin, Martin & Schwab-Stone). At the conclusion of their research, they found that children with higher attachment and involvement to school did not engage in as much violence as those with lower attachment and involvement. Also, they discovered that even males and females with similarly low levels of attachment and involvement differed in their violence level: males were more violent (Frey, Ruchkin, Martin & Schwab-Stone 2009).
     Researchers Boden, Fergusson, and Horwood studied the correlation between low self-esteem at age 15 to violent behaviors later in life at age 18, 21, and 25 in their article titled, 'Self-Esteem and Violence: Testing Links Between Adolescent Self-Esteem and Later Hostility and Violent Behavior'(Boden, Fergusson, & Horwood, 2007). They gathered this information through the Christchurch Health and Development Study. This study was a longitudinal study. One thousand two-hundred and sixty-five children from the Christchurch area in New Zealand were included in the study. 'This cohort has been studied at birth, 4 months, 1 year, at annual intervals to age 16 years, and at ages 18, 21, and 25 years' (Boden, Fergusson, & Horwood, 2007). Boden, Fergusson, and Horwood used the Coopersmith Self-Esteem inventory when the adolescent turned 15 to gauge their self-esteem. When the subjects were met up with at ages 18, 21, and 25 they were asked a series of questions about their hostile and/or violent behavior. By the time they had finished, they found that there was a definite correlation between the adolescents' self-esteem score to their later violent actions. This means the lower self-esteem they had at age 15, the more likely they were to become violent at ages 18, 21, and 25 (Boden, Fergusson, & Horwood, 2007).
     In his article, 'The Interaction Between Genetic Risk and Childhood Sexual Abuse in the Prediction of Adolescent Violent Behavior,' Kevin M. Beaver tried to discover if children that are sexually abused are more prone to grow into violent adolescents. He used the Add Health assessment for his analysis. ''The Add Health is a prospective, longitudinal, and nationally representative sample of American adolescents in 7th through 12th grade'' (Beaver, 2008). A random sampling method was used to select the students in both middle and high schools. The questions within the survey were about student's living situations, the type of friends they hung out with, their health, 'and involvement in risky behaviors' (Beaver, 2008). Beaver found that for females there was no risk for violence due to either genetic risk or sexual abuse. In contrast, males that reported to have been sexually abused correlated positively with acting out in a violent manner; however, their genetic risk did not. (Beaver, 2008).
     The final study referring to violence in adolescents is, 'Prediction of Suicidality and Violence in Hospitalized Adolescents: Comparisons by Sex' by Daniel F. Becker and Carlos M. Grilo. In their study, both researchers wanted to see if there was a positive correlation between adolescents that were hospitalized and their risk for suicide and/or violence and if their sex has any effect on their risk to commit these acts. In this study, they used 487 psychiatric inpatients ranging in age from 12 to 19. Each adolescent completed a survey with 'psychometrically sound self-report measures of psychological functioning, substance abuse, suicidality, and violent behaviour' (Becker & Grilo, 2007). Adjacently, they 'conducted multiple regression analyses to determine the joint and independent predictors of suicide risk and violence risk' (Becker & Grilo, 2007). A regression analyses is a method used to generate estimates among any trend. They found that females generally experienced more hopelessness, depression, alcohol abuse, and suicide risk while their self-esteem remained lower. In comparison to females, hospitalized males experienced more violent tendencies than their female counterparts as well as hopelessness, impulsivity, drug abuse, and suicide risk. (Becker & Grilo, 2007)
Adolescent's Religious Commitment
     Across the globe, adolescents everywhere possess varying levels of religious commitment. Their amount of religious commitment can affect what activities they choose to involve themselves in, what side of an issue they take, or even having religion forced on them can inspire them on a different life path later in life. No matter what the issue, researchers continue to  conduct research regarding religious commitment (Jeynes, 2006, Uecker, 2009, Johnson, Jang, Larson & De Li, 2001, and Jeynes, 2003).
     William H. Jeynes hypothesized that children that have a higher religious commitment would be less likely to engage in drug and alcohol consumption. Jeynes used a sample for this study taken from the NELS (National Education Longitudinal Survey). Students took this survey in 1992. The questionnaires that students received contained variables that involved religious commitment. 'Their primary purpose of the study was to compare the marijuana, cocaine, and alcohol consumption patterns of devoutly religious students versus those students who did not fall into this category' (Jeynes, Adolescent Religious Commitment and Their Consumption of Marijuana, Cocaine, and Alcohol, 2006). Jeynes eventually found that students that are more religious consume less marijuana, cocaine, and alcohol. Similarly, religious students were also less likely to be on marijuana or alcohol while in school; however, there was no difference between religious students and non-religious students being under the influence of cocaine while at school (Jeynes, Adolescent Religious Commitment and Their Consumption of Marijuana, Cocaine, and Alcohol, 2006).
     In yet another study, Jeynes used religion as a variable for his research. In 2003, he wrote an article titled, 'The Effects of Religious Commitment on the Attitudes and Behavior of Teens Regarding Premarital Childbirth' (Jeynes, The Effects of Religious Commitment on the Attitudes and Behavior of Teens Regarding Premarital Childbirth, 2003). The point of this research was to discover if teens that considered themselves religious had different views on premarital childbirth than their peers that did not consider themselves religious. This sample was also taken from the NELS. In the end, Jeynes found that highly religious teens found it to be more important that someone be married before having a child than their less religious counterparts (Jeynes, The Effects of Religious Commitment on the Attitudes and Behavior of Teens Regarding Premarital Childbirth, 2003).
     Jeremey Uecker took a different approach when using a religiosity variable. Instead of seeing if amount of religiosity had an effect on adolescent's behavior, he chose to see if a different variable had an effect on an adolescent's religiosity. He hypothesized that younger children that attended a Protestant or Catholic School in their younger years would be more likely to have greater religious commitment in later years than would one of their peers that did not attend a Protestant or Catholic School. Uecker took his sample from 'waves 1 and 3 of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health' (Uecker, 2009). The first wave contained 20, 745 adolescents while the third wave only contained 15,197 adolescents. Uecker found that students that attended religious schools as children ended up attending religious services more often as young adults. Their attendance was affected by their parents' attendance. The more their parents attended, they attended. When comparing Catholic School attendees to Protestant School attendees, Catholics were slightly more likely to attend a religious service. Protestants were then four times more likely than secular school attendees to attend religious services (Uecker, 2009).
Social Bonding Theory's Tie to Religion's effect on An Adolescent's Violent Behavior
     Many researcher's that have correlated an adolescent's high religiosity to their lack of violent behavior have used the social bonding theory to do so. Michael Cretacci (2003) analyzed the Add Health survey to determine whether adolescents' social bonds had anything to do with their violent acts. In the end, Cretacci found that adolescents in the age group 10-13 only obtained peer commitment. Also, the religion variable had no effect on bonds whatsoever. Cretacci found that the only variables that had an effect on adolescents' violence were their peers and/or gender. (Cretacci, 2003).
When looking at all aspects of this proposal separately, it is easy to discover that there has been much research conducted. Regarding social bonding theory, researchers have looked at many different aspects using the theory to supplement their research. (Wang, 2006; Ozbay & Ozcan, 2008; Rebellon & Gundy, 2006; Berends, 1995). Also, researchers have looked at all the possible causes of violence that affect the children of the world (Clemente, Espinosa, & Vidal, 2003; Frey, Ruchkin, Martin, & Schwab-Stone, 2009; Boden, Fergusson & Horwood, 2007; Beaver, 2008; Becker & Grilo, 2007). In addition, researchers have looked at religious commitment among adolescents and why their religious commitment came to fruition or never fully developed. (Jeynes, Adolescent Religious Commitment and Their Comsumption of Marijuana, Cocaine, and Alcohol, 2006; Uecker, 2009; Johnson, Jang, Larson, & De Li, 2001; Jeynes, The Effects of Religious Commitment on the Attitudes and Behavior of Teens Regarding Premarital Childbirth, 2003). Although researchers have found different findings, is it possible that religion can affect a child in a way that will make them less violent? It is pertinent that this issue is not settled until all possible research is done. Looking at a sample of 6th to 12th graders will determine whether a child more involved in religious activities is less likely to be a violent child.
     The data analyzed for this research was a secondary analysis (taken from the Kentucky Youth Survey). Pamela Wilcox and Richard R. Clayton (2001) collected this data by sending out surveys in the schools in the most populous county in Kentucky. The schools chosen were those that housed 6th through 12th graders. In the end, about 22 schools participated. The questionnaires contained questions concerning smoking, drinking, drug, and other illegal activities. Also, there were questions concerned with ''family background, attitudes towards school, involvement in school, victimization and violence, peer behaviors, and religious attitudes' (Wilcox & Clayton, 2001).  Teachers distributed the anonymous questionnaires to their students and collected them once the students completed them. Both IRB and parental permission was given before the questionnaires were distributed (Wilcox & Clayton, 2001). Once it was all said and done there was a complete sample of 26,687 students; however, due to software limitations, the data examined for this thesis has been reduced to 1,500.
Independent Variables
For this study, there were four independent variables: attachment, commitment, involvement, and belief. These four variables were connected to the variable of religiosity. The main concern is how attached, committed, involved, and belief oriented adolescents are towards their religion of choice. The thought is that when an adolescent is more attached, committed, involved, and belief oriented towards their religion, they will be less violent. In order to gauge an adolescent's religious attachment etc, the variables used from the Kentucky Youth Survey were, 'how important religion/spirituality is to your life?' and 'how often do you participate in religious services or activities?' Both of these questions cannot properly gauge an adolescent's religiosity; however, because this is a secondary analysis, those questions will be used by proxy to measure religiosity. The responses for both questions were in Likert Scale format. The question concerning religion importance was coded as 1=not at all important to 4= very important. The other question concerning how often the adolescent participates in religious activities was coded as 0=never, 1=1-4 times/year, 2=5-10 times/month, 3=1-2 times/month, 4=1 time/week, and 5=more than 1 time/week.
Dependent Variables
This study will examine several dependent variables regarding adolescent's past violent behavior. These questions could be answered with only a yes or no. The coding for these answers included 0=no and 1=yes. I analyzed the responses to a series of questions about student's violent behavior and combined them, creating a multiple-item indicator (α=.79). Appendix A shows the questions used to develop this multiple-item indicator.
Control Variables
     Because there are various reasons regarding an adolescent's violence and their religiosity, three control variables will be used: age, sex, and race. Engagement in violent or religious activities can possibly vary by age, sex, and race. Each variable contains a separate code. The question that was asked to determine age was the students' current grade level; therefore, the coding was 6=6th, 7=7th, 8=8th, 9=9th, 10=10th, 11=11th, and 12=12th. To determine a participants' sex, they were able to mark either male or female. The coding was 0=female and 1=male. Finally, to determine an adolescents' race, he or she were able to mark their race given the choices of White, Black, Native American, Mexican/Chicano, Puerto Rican/ other Latin American, Asian, White & Black, or Other. Because Kentucky is mostly populated by whites, the coding for this section would be recoded as 0=non-white and 1=white to simplify the sample.
     Table 1 is the table of descriptive statistics and it illustrates the range of each variable as well as the mean (referring the average answer given by respondents) and the standard deviation (where the respondents' answers fall on the normal curve). The multiple-item indicator that expressed violence level was the dependent variable. By taking several variables, a scale was made to represent violence as a whole. The range for this scale was 1 to 7. The average score among respondents was 2.75. Finally, the standard deviation came out as 1.97. Both the variable that indicated how often a respondent attended religious services and the variable that expressed how important religion was to that respondent were used as independent variables. In the hypothesis, it was said that students that consider themselves more religious and those that attend religious services more often should be prone to less violence. The range for how often respondents attended religious services was 0 to 5 while the mean was 3.13. The standard deviation was 1.85. The range for the importance of religion to the respondents was 1 to 4 with a mean of 3.29. At .88, the standard deviation is where it needs to be. The control variables of sex and racer had a range of 0 to 1. The mean for race was .84. This means that 84 percent of respondents were white. The standard deviation was .37. Sex had a mean of .51. This shows that there was an almost fifty-fifty ratio of male to female. The standard deviation was .50. Finally, the grade of school that each respondent was in was the final control variable. The range was 6 to 12. The mean was 8.7 which tells us that most respondents were between eighth and ninth grade. The standard deviation was 1.93.
     Table 2 illustrates the relationships among the study variables at the bivariate level. The relationships of greatest interest were that of how often a respondent attends religious services with their corresponding level of violence and how important religion is to a respondent and their corresponding level of violence. In the end, it shows that both relationships are highly significant. Regarding the relationship between the amount of services attended and the amount of violence, they were negatively correlated. This means that when a student goes to church more often, they more likely to act with less violence than those that go to church less often. Also, importance of religion to the respondent and the amount of violence correlated negatively; therefore, if a respondent identifies religion as more important, they are more likely to be less violent than respondents that find religion to be less important in their lives.
     Table 3 illustrates a multi-variate analysis between the importance of religion to a respondent and the violence scale. In the end, it was found that for every unit increase in importance of religion there is a corresponding decrease in the violence scale by -.269 controlling for all other variables. Among these variables, the relationship was found to be significant. This means that when all control variables including one independent variable are measured together against the dependent variable, this significant relationship occurs, further confirming that respondents with a high regard for religion in their lives are less violent. Not only does this finding support the hypothesis stated at the beginning, it supports Hirschi's (1969) social bonding theory: those that are attached, committed, involved, and contain the beliefs of a certain group, they will follow the actions and wishes of that particular group.
     Table 4 is similar to table 3 in that it is a multi-variate analysis; however the variables measured against one another are different. How often a respondent attends services was measured against the violence scale. It was found that for every unit increase in the frequency of religious services attended there was a corresponding decrease in the violence scale by -.104 controlling for all other variables. Once again, this relationship was found to be significant and supported the hypothesis as well as Hirschi's (1969) social bonding theory.
Generally, religious attachment, commitment, involvement, and belief are thought to be an important part of person's life, and our analysis suggests that this is true. The morality and values within all major religions steers its followers towards a life of peace and love over hatred and violence. Throughout this study, every aspect of this hypothesis was evaluated. Several articles regarding the impact of Hirschi's (1969) social bonding theory were found to show that this theory is strong in its explanation for group impact (Wang, 2006; Ozbay & Ozcan, 2008; Rebellon & Gundy, 2006; Berends, 1995). Furthermore, researchers have founded many possible explanations for violence among children across the globe (Clemente, Espinosa, & Vidal, 2003; Frey, Ruchkin, Martin, & Schwab-Stone, 2009; Boden, Fergusson, & Horwood, 2007; Beaver, 2008; Becker & Grilo, 2007). None of these articles cited religion for any source of violent activities among youth. In addition, several researchers were cited regarding an adolescent's religious commitment (Jeynes, 2006; Uecker, 2009; Johnson, Lang, Larson, & De Li, 2001, and Jeynes, 2003). Throughout the activities and values looked at attached to an adolescent's religious commitment, none were of violent origin. Finally, Michael Cretacci (2003) found that religion ultimately had no effect on what triggered adolescent violence.
     This analysis shows that violent behavior is negatively correlated to heightened religiosity: meaning that those that are more religious are less violent. Grade has no significant impact on an adolescent's violence or religiosity, whereas sex and race do. This shows that an adolescent's violence is more easily predictable when their sex and race are known; however, by knowing their level in school, it is less predictable. It should be noted that all people of a certain sex or race do not participate in violent activities and stereotyping is not encouraged. This leads to the limitations of this study. Not all individuals that attend religious services or consider religion important to them are less violent. There are possible exceptions in any case; however, it has been proven that those with the mentioned characteristics are simply more likely to be less violent.
An adolescent's attachment, involvement, commitment, and belief towards their religious group seem to be a highly important factors in their lives. The importance they feel religion has on their lives influences the amount of violence they partake in negatively. Similarly, the more often a student attends religious services or activities, the amount of violence they participate in is correlated negatively. Throughout this entire study, Hirchi's (1969) social bonding theory was highlighted to make known the significant relationship between religiosity and violence. Future research on religiosity and violence should look further into which religions are associated with significantly lower levels of violence in the individual as well as asking more targeted questions to determine a respondent's religiosity.



Works Cited

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Becker, D. F., & Grilo, C. M. (2007). Prediction of Suicidality and Violence in Hospitalized Adolescents: Comparisons by Sex. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry , 572-580.

Berends, M. (1995). Educational Stratification and Students' Social Bonding to School. Journal of Sociology of Education , 327-351.

Boden, J. M., Fergusson, D. M., & Horwood, L. J. (2007). Self-Esteem and Violence: Testing Links Between Adolescent Self-Esteem and Later Hostility and Violent Behavior. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology , 881-891.

Clemente, M., Espinosa, P., & Vidal, M. A. (2003). Types of Media Violence and Degree of Acceptance in Under-18s. Aggressive Behavior , 381-392.

Cretacci, M. A. (2003). Religion and Social Control: An Application of a Modified Social Bond on Violence. Criminal Justice Review , 254-277.

Frey, A., Ruchkin, V., Martin, A., & Schwab-Stone, M. (2009). Adolescents In Transition: School and Family Characteristics in the Development of Violent Behaviors Entering High School. Child Psychiatry & Human Development , 1-13.

Jeynes, W. H. (2006). Adolescent Religious Commitment and Their Consumption of Marijuana, Cocaine, and Alcohol. The Journal of Health and Social Policy , 1-20.

Jeynes, W. H. (2003). The Effects of Religious Commitment on the Attitudes and Behavior of Teens Regarding Premarital Childbirth. Journal of Health and Social Policy , 1-17.

Johnson, B. R., Jang, S. J., Larson, D. B., & De Li, S. (2001). Does Religious Commitment Matter? A Reexamination of the Effects of Religiosity on Delinquency. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency , 22-44.

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Uecker. (2009). Catholic Schooling, Protestant Schooling, and Religious Commitment in Young Adulthood. Journal of the Scientific Study of Religion , 353-367.

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1.      Have you ever shoved or tripped someone?


2.      Have you ever hit, punched, or slapped someone with your hand or fist?


3.        Have you ever hit someone with an object you were holding or threw?

4.      Have you ever been in a fist fight?


5.        Have you ever used a weapon during a fight?

6.       Have you ever threatened to hurt someone with a weapon?


7.       Have you ever used a gun to threaten someone?


Appendix A
Multiple-Item Indicator-Violence Scale


Table 1. Table of Descriptive Statistics




Descriptive Statistics








(0=no violence, 7=extremely violent)





How important is religion/spirituality is to your life

How often you participate in religious services or activites  










(1=not at all important, 2=not very important, 3=somewhat important, 4=very important)

(0=never, 1=1-4 times/year, 2=5-10 times/year, 3=1-2 times/month, 4=1 time/week, 5=more than 1 time/week)


(0=female, 1=male)

(0=nonwhite, 1=white)

(6=6th grade, 7=7th grade, 8=8th grade, 9=9th grade, 10=10th grade, 11=11th grade, 12=12th grade)


























Table 2. Correlation Matrix







1.      Violence






2.      Religiosity (importance)






3.      Religiosity (services)






4.      sex






5.      race






6.      grade















Table 3. OLS Regression Model



Std. Error














How important religion/spirituality is to your life












Table 4. OLS Regression Model



Std. Error














How often you participate in religious services/activities