Can God Help? Religion and Spirituality among Adolescent Male Sex Offenders

Abstract

Religion has been identified as a key protective factor against delinquency among teens. Sex offending, in particular, is often seen as a moral as well as a clinical and a correctional issue. Yet, there is virtually no research exploring religion among adolescent sex offenders. Although religion is a multidimensional construct, it has most frequently been assessed by one or two blunt measures such as church attendance or self-rated salience of religion in existing studies (Johnson, De Li, Larson, & McCullough, 2000). In this project, we used a multidimensional measure (the BMMRS) to explore the impact of religion on delinquency committed by adolescent sex offenders (N = 196). We found that religion played a significant role in the lives of the incarcerated adolescent males who formed the sample. In a mediation analysis, religion partially meditated the relationship between trauma and nonsexual delinquency among this population. Implications for research and treatment are explored.

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Correspondence to Annemarie Gockel.

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Gockel, A., Burton, D. Can God Help? Religion and Spirituality among Adolescent Male Sex Offenders. Journ Child Adol Trauma 6, 274–286 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1080/19361521.2013.836584

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Keywords

  • juvenile delinquency
  • male sex offenders
  • child maltreatment
  • adolescents
  • religion