Date of Award


Degree Type

Honors College Thesis



First Advisor

Nora Charles, Ph.D.

Advisor Department



Previous studies have assessed religious identity in adolescents, showing that stronger religiosity correlates with lower levels of stress, better occupational and academic performances, and overall better well–being in adolescents and young adults (Koenig et al., 2001). There is also evidence of differences across races in how religiosity influences areas of adolescent behavior. The purpose of the current study is to identify the association between the strength of religiosity in White and Black at-risk youths and their involvement in risky behaviors. Data was gathered from teens aged 16-19 who are currently enrolled in a military-style residential program (n = 80); 57 percent of the participants were White, and 43 percent of the participants were Black. Participants answered questions regarding whether religion was important to them, whether they attended church, and how often they attended church. They also responded to a survey regarding the frequency of their marijuana use and total substance use as well as risky sexual behavior. Results from the survey indicated a negative correlation between high religiosity and involvement in risky behaviors or maladaptive coping such as self-harming behaviors for both White and Black kids. However, the importance of religion showed a stronger protective relationship in White kids while attending religious services showed a stronger protective relationship in Black kids. This provides evidence that religion has a significant association with risky behaviors displayed in adolescents, that that the nature of the association varies depending on race