Child Indicators Research

, Volume 12, Issue 6, pp 2051–2065 | Cite as

The Correlation Between Delinquent Peers and Perpetration of Serious Physical Violence: Religiosity as a Protective Factor

  • Adeem Ahmad MassarwiEmail author
  • Mona Khoury-Kassabri
  • Rana Eseed


This study explored the moderating effect of religiosity on the correlation between affiliation with delinquent peers and perpetration of serious physical violence among a representative sample of 2811 Arab Muslim adolescents (aged 13–18) in Israel, who completed a structured, anonymous, self-report questionnaire. The findings showed that religiosity may play a protective role in preventing adolescent delinquency and in decreasing the effects of delinquent peers. We found that 28.4% of the participants had perpetrated serious physical violence at least once during the month preceding the study, and that there was a significant positive correlation between affiliation with delinquent peers and perpetration of serious physical violence(r = .54, P < .05). The correlation between affiliation with delinquent peers and perpetration of serious physical violence was found to be weaker among those who identified as religious than among those who identified as non-religious, after controlling for individual, familial, and social variables. Because religiosity was found to be a moderating factor in the relationship between affiliation with delinquent peers and violence (B = 0.20, SE = 0.01, p < .001), these findings highlight the critical role of religiosity as a protective factor. These results call for developing culturally sensitive interventions that take into consideration the cultural context in which these youth live, including the role of religiosity in their lives.


Delinquent peers Physical violence Religiosity Youth 



This article is based on a study supported by a research grant from the Israel Science Foundation. The authors would also like to thank the many young people who generously gave their time and support to make this study possible.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Social Work and Social WelfareThe Hebrew University of JerusalemJerusalemIsrael

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