How Does Religion Relate to Positive Youth Development?
In their edited book Thriving and Spirituality Among Youth: Research Perspectives and Future Possibilities, Amy Eva Alberts Warren, Richard M. Lerner, and Erin Phelps explore the current research on the roles of spirituality and religion in youths' lives. The book features a chapter on religious conversion during adolescence that highlights three case studies of youths who were non-practicing Jews or Christians and converted to Islam. On the basis of the case studies, the chapter authors concluded that there is "evidence to support the relationship between religious conversion and positive youth development" (p. 161).
According to reviewer Joan Koss-Chioino, further research on religious conversion among youths is needed to elucidate the role of such experience in positive youth development. On the one hand, religious conversion could engender the individual's greater concern with community in the context of a "hoped-for positive and peaceful state of the world," but she cautions that conversion to a fundamentalist form of a religion could have negative results.
What role, if any, do religion and spirituality play in positive youth development? Is there a need for religion or spirituality to be incorporated in youth prevention programming? How might religious conversion specifically either contribute to, or detract from, positive youth development?
By Joan Koss-Chioino
PsycCRITIQUES, 2012 Vol 57(47)