Spirituality as a protective factor for children and adolescents

Authored by: Linda Benavides

The Routledge Handbook of Religion, Spirituality and Social Work

Print publication date:  March  2017
Online publication date:  April  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138931220
eBook ISBN: 9781315679853
Adobe ISBN:


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The last 30 years have seen a shift in the social work profession from a dissociation of the religious/spiritual to an embracement of spirituality as an important human condition (Sheridan 2009; Weick et al. 1989). More recently, attention has turned to the spiritual lives of children and adolescents. Spiritual development from childhood to adolescence has been explored by several authors (Boyatzis et al. 2006; Coles 1990; Hart 2006; Hay 1994; Hay and Nye 2006; Hay et al. 2006; Rew et al. 2007; Schwartz et al. 2006; Smith and Denton 2005). Spirituality has been identified as a source of resiliency for at-risk children and adolescents (Crawford et al. 2006); as a source of decline in risk behaviours, such as substance use/abuse and early sexual experimentation (Blakeney and Blakeney 2006; Hodge et al. 2001; Rostosky et al. 2004), and as a factor in positive adolescent development (Benson et al. 2005; King and Benson 2006). The purpose of this chapter is to explore how spirituality can act as a protective factor for children and adolescents and consider the implications of this for social work practice.

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