Religion Is Good for Kids

An interesting article entitled Religion Is Good for Kids is available on Fox News. According to the article:

Kids with religious parents are better behaved and adjusted than other children, according to a new study that is the first to look at the effects of religion on young child development.

The conflict that arises when parents regularly argue over their faith at home, however, has the opposite effect.

John Bartkowski, a Mississippi State University sociologist and his colleagues asked the parents and teachers of more than 16,000 kids, most of them first-graders, to rate how much self control they believed the kids had, how often they exhibited poor or unhappy behavior and how well they respected and worked with their peers.

The researchers compared these scores to how frequently the children’s parents said they attended worship services, talked about religion with their child and argued abut religion in the home.

The kids whose parents regularly attended religious services — especially when both parents did so frequently — and talked with their kids about religion were rated by both parents and teachers as having better self-control, social skills and approaches to learning than kids with non-religious parents.

Personally, I don't find this surprising at all. But then, I'm sure our atheist friends will disagree.


Anonymous said…
Do you know if the parents and teachers knew what the independent variable was? Couldnt that slightly influence the interpretations of these children in a certain direction?
BK said…
Hello Anonymous,

I don't know anything more about the story than the news article reports. At the moment, I will assume (subject to correction if the evidence says as much) that the parents and teachers didn't know what the independent variable was going to be.

I am not sure what you mean by your second question. Of course, it is clear that the three markers used in the description of the study -- "better self-control, social skills and approaches to learning" -- can be rather subjective. Is it possible that the teachers, knowing the independent variable, rated the religious kids higher? Yeah, I would expect that would be possible. Is it possible that the parents, knowing the independent variable, pushed their children to behave better? I doubt that because then the non-religious parents would have also pushed their kids to behave better, wouldn't they?
Anonymous said…
What I meant by the second question is if the teachers and parents knew the independent variable that could effect their interpretations of certain children. Cant really answer that question just from that article I guess.

Thanks for the response :).
Jason Pratt said…
Also, to be fair, our atheist buddies would probably agree, and not be surprised, that religiously indoctrinated kids behave better than otherwise. (Ultra-santa-claus effect, whatever. Being 'freethinkers' means 'freeing' one's self from exactly that kind of indoctrination, ja? {g})

Religious conflict between the parents would have an obviously natural effect as well, in numerous ways, on how stably the child may behave when outside the house. It needn't even be religious conflict, just conflict. {s} But a religious conflict means the child is extra hard-put to figure out which parent to trust, and to sort authoritative claims properly.

Whereas, neither should it be surprising if children reared on a 'survival of the fittest, morality is social convenience' notion, behave a little worse in school than otherwise. {g} If they can get away with it, they might as well do it, right?

But then, neither would it be surprising if parents who believe that sort of thing as a fundamental worldview, make some effort to teach something _else_ to the child _instead_, even if it still 'looks' secular. It would save them some hassles for a while, at the least. (Besides which they might not even honestly recognize it as being something else, themselves.)

Livingsword said…
There are so many ways to ponder this article I am not sure where to start.

The first thing that stands out to me is it is about religion and I take this to mean all religions it does not name Christianity. If this is true and it just means a moral code that parents are teaching and inforced by the parents then I am not interested.

If it means lives changed by a living relationship with Jesus then it becomes very interesting.

There is a lot of difference between being religous and being a follower of Jesus.
Michael Turton said…
ROFL. Can't any of you google? Bartwoski is a Mormon who once discovered that Mormon kids are the best at religion.... Whoa! What a coincidence!

Anyone taking a glance at Mississippi's ratings across the any positive social value, from suicide to teacher pay to the environment to entreprenuership, will find the state is at or near the bottom in almost any category chosen. Obviously the study is deeply flawed! No need even to know that the author is pushing his religious agenda. Although it is blindingly obvious from his 'research'.


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