The Relation Between Crime and Acculturation in Latino Youth and the Protective Effects of the Importance of Spirituality and Religious Attendance



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As the Latino population in the United States (U.S.) increases, so does attention to unique predictors of crime in this ethnic group. Increased acculturation to the U.S. has been found to have adverse effects on Latinos, with one such effect including increased delinquency and crime. The importance of spirituality and religious attendance have been investigated as potential protective effects against crime, but past research is limited by inadequate measurement, including measuring only one single dimension of religiosity or spirituality, such as importance of religion or religious service attendance, at a time, neglecting to include both aspects. This study aimed to, first, identify whether a positive relation exists between acculturation and crime in Latino youth and, second, if examine if importance of spirituality and/or religious attendance serve as moderators of this relation. This study used data from the study Pathways to Desistance in order to explore this hypothesis longitudinally at 12 months and 24 months. A binary logistic regression was used to find if (1) there was a relation between acculturation and crime and (2) if religious attendance and importance of spirituality could each moderate this relation. Age at first offense remained as a main effect at 12 and 24 months, while acculturation exerted a main effect only at 24 months. Attending church sporadically (one to two times a month) emerged as a risk factor for recidivism in bicultural and Mexican-oriented youth (in interaction with acculturation), while never attending church actually predicted less offending.



Acculturation, Latino youth, Recidivism, Religious attendance, Spirituality, Religiosity, Importance of religion, Importance of spirituality, Adolescent, crime