• Allison Guy

The Protective Role of Religion for Black American Adolescent Boys Who Experience Police Abuse

America has recently dealt with the deaths of George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks, and other African-Americans due to police brutality. However, a new study shows that being religious may shield black American adolescent boys from the harmful effects of police brutality.


The research article entitled, "'Can I Live': Black American Adolescent Boys' Reports of Police Abuse and the Role of Religiosity on Mental Health," was published on June 17 in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

The purpose of the study was to shed some light on the intersection between mental health, police abuse, and religiosity. In the words of the authors, "The purpose of this study is to examine the impact of reports of police abuse on mental health and perceived racial out-group perceptions and the protective role of religiosity among a nationally representative sample of Black American adolescent boys ... "


"Black adolescent experiences with police violence is nothing new," Ashley N. Jackson, lead author of the study and doctoral student, told phys.org. "Black communities continue to experience police violence and its adverse effects at alarming rates. We continue to see the urgency of the issue as illustrated in the uprisings and protests seeking racial justice not only within the U.S. but also across the globe after the death of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and many others," Jackson added.

Ashley N. Jackson, lead author of the study


Jackson also pointed out the effects of police brutality on self-esteem: "We find that black male youth who have been abused by the police believe that society holds a negative perception of them."


According to the article's abstract, among black American adolescent males, "Higher reports of subjective religiosity were associated with lower depressive symptomatology." About 71% of the study's subjects were African American boys and 21% were Carribbean black boys.

"This particular finding highlights how the specific construct of religion may reduce negative mental health outcomes and aligns with prior work that finds associations between religiosity and healthy psychological well-being," Jackson said.


African-American adolescents are the most religious group of adolescents in the United States, according to Sheretta T. Butler-Barnes, co-author and associate professor at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis.


For more details about the study, you can read the full article for free here.

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