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Impact of Religious Retreats on Disruptive Behaviors in Incarcerated Youth

[ Vol. 5 , Issue. 4 ]


Patrick Holden and Rene Luis Olvera   Pages 257 - 263 ( 7 )


Background/Objective: This study was needed to determine if religious retreats, particularly extended three-day retreats, had any impact on the disruptive behavior of incarcerated adolescents attending the retreat compared to those who did not attend.

Method: The authors compared the number of Behavior Time-Outs (BTOs) assigned by staff (a measure of disruptive behaviors) to those attending the retreat and to those who did not attend the retreat; these were compared for both groups at one month before the retreat and at one and three months after the retreat. The retreat and control groups were compared for using statistical analysis (chi square, t test and repeated measure ANOVA) to detect differences between the groups and the statistical significance of the retreat on BTOs for the retreat group.

Results: The number of BTOs in the retreat group fell from a baseline of 3.82 to 2.42 per week at one month and 2.26 per week at three months. At the same time the control group displayed an increase in BTOs from 3.84 at baseline to 4.06 at one month and then to 3.50 at three months. When the retreat group BTOs were compared to that of the control group over time, our analyses revealed a significant within group by time interaction, F = 4.42, p 0.039. We also noted a significant between effect for groups at F= 5.26, p = 0.024.

Conclusions: These data suggest that a religious retreat like Epiphany can lower disruptive behavior, at least over a three month term. Correctional facilities may want to investigate the addition of similar types of faithbased interventions to the milieu. Further studies are needed to substantiate this finding.


Adolescents, chaplains, delinquency, disruptive behavior, faith-based programs, religion.


Department of Psychiatry, 7703 Floyd Curl Drive, San Antonio, TX 78229, USA.

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