The protective effects of religiousness and forgiveness for the link between peer victimization and mental health in adolescence

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Virginia Tech

Previous research has shown peer victimization during adolescence to have strong lasting effects on mental health. Religiousness and forgiveness are two factors that are positively related to mental health and the current study proposes that they may have a protective influence against the negative effects of peer victimization. Additionally, religiousness and forgiveness may be related in that forgiveness may be a link in the religiousness/health relationship. The purpose of the current study was to examine the relationships among religiousness, forgiveness and mental health in the context of peer victimization during adolescence. Mental health was measured by internalizing symptomatology and emotion regulation. Analyses were conducted using Structural Equation Modeling. Results indicate that forgiveness may indeed be a link in the religiousness/health relationship but only when examining private religious practices. Results further show that religiousness may not be a strong protective factor in the context of peer victimization and that certain dimensions of forgiveness (specifically benevolence motivations) may actually exacerbate the effects of peer victimization on internalizing symptomatology rather than act as a protective factor.

Religiousness, Forgiveness, Internalizing Symptomatology, Emotion Regulation, Adolescence