Departmental Papers (SPP)

Document Type

Journal Article

Date of this Version



Too few studies have assessed the relationship between youth risk behaviors and religiosity using measures which captured the varied extent to which youth are engaged in religion. This study applied three measures of religiosity and risk behaviors. In addition, this study ascertained information about youths’ participation in religious activities from a parent or caretaker. Based on a national random sample of 2,004 teens (ages 11-18), this study indicates that youth perceive religion as important, are active in religious worship and activities, and further shows that perceived importance of religion as well as participation in religious activities are associated with decreased risk behaviors. Looking at ten risk behaviors, religiosity variables were consistently associated with reduced risk behaviors in the areas of: smoking, alcohol use, truancy, sexual activity, marijuana use, and depression. In the case of these six risk variables, religiosity variables were significantly associated with reduced risk behaviors when controlling for family background variables and self esteem. The study highlights the importance of further understanding the relationship between religious variables, background variables, self esteem, and youth risk behaviors.


Postprint version. Published in Journal of Adolescence, Volume 30, Issue 2, April 2007, pages 231-249.
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religiosity, risk behavior, self-esteem



Date Posted: 27 February 2007

This document has been peer reviewed.