Risk for Delinquent Peer Group Joining: Religious Involvement as a Mediating Mechanism

Monica L. Whitlock, University of Southern California
Cheryl L. Maxson, University of California, Irvine

ABSTRACT
This study presents Wave 1 findings from a US Department of Education Field Initiated Studies grant designed to examine school strategies that protect youth from joining gangs and other delinquent peer groups (including tagger crews and party crews). In this presentation, we investigate the role of religious involvement and commitment in helping youth negotiate the community risk that places them at greater odds for delinquent peer group joining. This study utilizes interviews with 7th and 8th grade Latino boys from six Los Angeles area middle schools located in high gang activity areas of the city to examie the extent to which religious involvement represents a source of support for these youth. The analytic strategy examines religiosity as a mediator of known risk variables associated with delinquent peer group joining by testing for interactive effects wherein religious involvement reduces the probability of delinquent peer group joining. These relationships will be examined for both immigrant and nonimmigrant youth.

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Updated 05/20/2006