From theory to application: is religiosity a factor in criminal behavior and juvenile delinquency
Cooper, Maisha N.
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Hirschi’s (1969) social bond theory argues that delinquent acts are the result of weak or broken societal bond; and Hirschi’s rationale behind the importance of social bonds has long since been both challenged and supported. Furthermore, social bond theory is included in discussions regarding the relationship between religiosity and delinquency. Religiosity has been defined as the extent to which an individual is committed to a religion, inasmuch as one’s attitudes and behaviors reflect this commitment (Johnson, Lang, Larson & De Li, 2001). Previous studies have found that involvement in religious practices (or programs) reduces juvenile delinquency and criminal activity (McGarrell, Brinker, & Etindi, 1999; Johnson, De LI, & McCullough, 2000; Johnson et al., 2001; Cox & Matthews, 2007). However, few studies have evaluated the relationships between religiosity, the four components of social bond theory, and delinquency. This study applied Hirschi’s social bond theory to self-reported delinquency of youth ages 16 – 20 years-old and included a measure of religiosity. It was hypothesized that both religiosity and social bond theory would have an impact on juvenile delinquency. The present study evaluated the effect of social bond and religiosity on self-reported delinquency, analyzing data from Wave 2 of the National Study of Youth and Religion (2005). The analysis utilized a series of standard multiple regressions and controlled for age and gender effects. The results indicated that religiosity does impact delinquency as a stand-alone measure, and as an interaction effect with the four components of social bond theory.