Sociology, Department of


First Advisor

Dr. Philip Schwadel

Second Advisor

Dr. Jacob E. Cheadle

Date of this Version

Spring 5-21-2020


A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Sociology, Under the Supervision of Professors Philip Schwadel and Jacob E. Cheadle. Lincoln, Nebraska: May, 2020


This dissertation examines associations between religiosity and bullying in adolescence and emerging adulthood across three empirical chapters. The first empirical chapter uses data from the National Study of Youth and Religion Wave 1 (N=3,137) to assess the likelihood of bullying and religious victimization by key religious factors in youth. Results show that religious affiliation, religious practices, and religious views and beliefs are all associated with differential likelihoods of bullying. Mainline Protestants and youth with higher religious salience and scripture reading had lower likelihoods of bullying perpetration. Higher service attendance and religious youth group participation, however, were associated with increased likelihood of religious victimization. This study shows that religiosity can have both a protective and exacerbating association with the emergence of bullying.

The second empirical chapter uses the Health Behavior in School-Aged Children 2009-2010 dataset (N=11,444) to examines differences in religious victimization and subsequent mental health consequences by race/ethnicity among elementary to high school students in the United States. Results show that Black youth reported higher religious victimization as compared to White youth. In addition, religious victimization had unique mental health consequences. Although the association between religious victimization and mental health outcomes did not differ by race/ethnicity, Black youth were more likely to be religious victims, and thus there remains a greater mental health burden associated with religious victimization for Black youth. This study points to the importance of religious victimization in youth and implications for the mental health and wellbeing of adolescents of different race/ethnic backgrounds.

The third empirical chapter uses Waves 1-3 of the National Study of Youth and Religion (N=2,454) to test whether the association between bullying and poorer mental health is mediated by religiosity over time. Results show that bullying is linked to poorer mental health (i.e., feelings of sadness and alienation) over time, although these associations were not mediated by religiosity. Increasing service attendance and feelings of closeness to God however were beneficial for mental health over the study period. This study points to the importance of examining multiple social factors in adolescence that have potential to alleviate the mental health consequences of bullying.

Advisors: Philip Schwadel and Jacob E. Cheadle

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Sociology Commons