Control or conviction: Religion and adolescent initiation of marijuana use
Much research on adolescent deviance has supported a theory of social control, asserting that the lack of ties to institutions (such as school and parents) increases an adolescent's likelihood of using illicit substances. Researchers in this tradition often posit religion as one among many sources of norm enforcement. Yet religion may impact adolescents' behavior more directly through its ability to create beliefs and identities that are incompatible with illegal substance use. This paper uses a nationally representative, longitudinal data set of adolescents, the National Study of Youth and Religion, to examine the influence of traditional measures of social control, religious social control, and a new measure of religious salience on the probability of adolescents' first marijuana use. Results demonstrate that religious salience is more predictive of this initiation than are measures of involvement with religious organizations and several common social control indicators. We also find substantial interactions between different forms of religiosity. In the conclusion, we consider broader implications for understanding religion's influence on deviance. © 2008 by the Journal of Drug Issues.
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