Role of Religiosity in the Lives of the Low-Income Population: A Comprehensive Review of the Evidence. Findings Specific to the Low-Income Population

07/10/2009

  1. Does church attendance influence crime and violence?

Research with general populations tends to emphasize religiosity as a deterrent to crime and violence. Not surprisingly, the empirical questions found in the body of research focused on the role of religiosity in low-income populations are similar to research with the general population.

The findings from two studies indicate that there are positive effects of frequent church attendance on crime and violence outcomes for low-income youth, but the effects of church attendance on crime and violence are mixed for low-income adults in three studies.

Table 7-1 highlights the findings for church attendance on crime outcomes from the five studies. The findings from two studies indicate that there are positive effects of frequent church attendance on crime and violence outcomes for low-income youth, but the effects of church attendance on crime and violence are mixed for low-income adults in three studies.

Table 7-1.
Relationship between Church Attendance and Crime-Related Outcomes in the Low-Income Population
Crime and Violence Outcomes Effects of Frequency of Church Attendance
Decision to use nonviolent methods to resolve hypothetical conflict
(DuRant et al., 1996)
Significantly less likely to engage in violence to resolve hypothetical conflict during adolescence.
Nondrug illegal activities
(Johnson et al. 2000b)
Significantly less likely to engage in nondrug illegal activities during adolescence.
General crime among adolescents
(Johnson, 2008b)
Church attendance mediates the harmful effects of neighborhood disorder on general crime among black youth such that when youth attended church, the negative effects of neighborhood disorder on general crime were reduced.
General crime among adolescents
(Johnson, 2008b)
The constraining effect of church attendance on general crime remains significant, even after controlling for social bonding and social learning variables as well as sociodemographic characteristics.
General crime among adolescents
(Johnson, 2008b)
The buffering effect of church attendance on general crime was not significant. However, when general crime was separated into minor and serious crime, church attendance significantly buffered youth from the effects of neighborhood disorder with regard to serious crime but not for minor crimes.
Self-reported adult crime
(Giordano et al., 2008)
Significantly less likely to commit crime at first follow-up. The effect of church attendance on crime is not significant at second follow-up.
Pattern of offending
(Giordano et al., 2008)
Increased church attendance during adolescence has no association with increased odds of sustaining a crime-free life in adulthood.
Child maltreatment
(Cox et al., 2003)
Never attending church resulted in a twofold increase in the risk for child maltreatment among low-income mothers.

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