Religiosity and Antisocial Behavior: Evidence from Young African American Women in Public Housing Communities

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Social Work Research

Publication Date


Date Added



A growing body of literature suggests that religious engagement may protect youths from involvement in nonviolent and violent antisocial behavior. However, despite demographic evidence suggesting that religion may be particularly important among young African American women, research on religiosity as a candidate protective factor for this important subpopulation is sparse. Using a sample of 138 young, female African Americans recruited from public housing developments in a large northeastern city, the study reported in this article examined the relationship between religiosity and antisocial behavior among this vulnerable population. Results indicate that religiosity is inversely associated with nonviolent antisocial behaviors across a wide spectrum of severity, including property damage, theft, and automobile theft. In contrast, no significant associations were identified for any of the violent manifestations of antisocial behavior examined. The findings suggest that religiosity is an important protective factor against antisocial behavior in the lives of young African American women in urban public housing communities, but that the protective effect of religiosity varies in terms of the violent or nonviolent nature of the behavior in question.




Social Work