Civil Society and Serious Juvenile Crime in Non-Metro Communities

Matthew R. Lee, Mississippi State University
John P. Bartkowski, Mississippi State University

ABSTRACT
Structural research on the correlates of serious juvenile crime has been limited by a nearly exclusive focus on urban communities, and a general replication of theoretical models traditionally applied to samples of urban communities. This research is designed to extend the structural tradition in two ways. First, we draw on the civil society and civic engagement literature to develop hypotheses suggesting that rates of serious juvenile crime will be lower in communities where religiously based civic engagement is more prevalent. Second, we test our theoretical model using a sample of non-metropolitan communities. The results highlight the importance of considering moral communities when explaining variation in serious juvenile crime rates outside of the metropolis, and lay the initial groundwork for potentially interesting directions for future research.

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Updated 05/20/2006