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Title:Religious socialization of maltreated youth and the impact of religiosity on their delinquency
Author(s):Schreiber, Jill
Director of Research:Ryan, Joseph P.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Ryan, Joseph P.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Anderson, Carolyn J.; Ebel, Jonathan H.; Helton, Jesse J.
Department / Program:School of Social Work
Discipline:Social Work
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):child welfare
religious socialization
Abstract:Maltreated adolescents are more likely to experience negative outcomes, including physical and mental health problems, poor academic progress, and increased risk behavior. Although it is important to reduce risk factors for these adolescents, many risk factors may be difficult to modify or change. Another method of decreasing negative outcomes for child welfare involved adolescents is to increase the promotive factors, the factors that buffer or moderate the effect of risks; religion is one of the factors that support resiliency by providing social and material support as well as coping mechanisms and meaning making. Religion was an important factor in the history and development of child welfare, and although its importance has been obscured over time it remains an influence today. Two common child welfare goals, cultural continuity and child well-being, both address the topic of religion. Each goal acknowledges the promotive and protective factors that can come with religious affiliation without being prescriptive about any specific faith or tradition. Religious participation can provide maltreated youth valuable social networks with peers and adults, moral directives, and coping strategies (e.g., prayer, forgiveness, meditation). These protective factors are especially important for youth who experience fractured relationships and traumatic life events. Religious affiliation can provide similar types of support for caregivers. However, when youth and parents do not share religious affiliations, the heteronomy (dissimilarity) can be a source of stress. This research builds on previous research about adolescent religiosity by focusing on a particularly high risk population, maltreated youth. There were two areas of investigation of the role of religiosity for maltreated adolescents: religious socialization and influence of religiosity on delinquency. The first major finding in this dissertation is that caregivers are a primary influence on their adolescent’s religiosity including 1) attendance at religious services and 2) how salient or important religion is for the adolescent. Weekly attendance of parents investigated for maltreatment and the weekly attendance of foster caregivers substantially increased the odds of youth attending weekly. Caregiver demographics and youth who had attended services with the caregiver in the past month increased the odds that youth report that religion is very important. The second major finding is that the religiosities of both maltreated youth and their caregivers are related to a decrease in the odds that maltreated adolescents were delinquent. This finding replicated previous research with the general population, in which religious commitments have been found to protect youth from risk behaviors. The positive effects of religious measures on youth outcomes and the fact that religiosity is something that maltreated youth and foster parents already experience has implications for supporting religious development of youth and considering religious matching at placement.
Issue Date:2013-05-24
Rights Information:Copyright 2013 Jill Schreiber
Date Available in IDEALS:2013-05-24
Date Deposited:2013-05

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