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How youth define spirituality.

Washington, June 22 (ANI): Youth define spirituality in terms of positive behaviours, feelings and relationships, an American study analysing the differences between spirituality and religion in adolescents has revealed.

Anthony James, a graduate student in the University of Missouri Department of Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS), who is undertaking the research said: "Ultimately, we want to determine the impact of spirituality on positive youth development, including self-esteem and pro-social behaviour, and if it buffers against negative or risky behaviour.

"To begin that research, we first need to identify how youth define and practice spirituality."

James examined adolescents' responses to the question, "What does it mean to be a spiritual young person?"

The responses reveal that youth describe their spiritual behaviour in terms of seven categories related to personal and social development, including:

To have purpose; to have the bond of connections, including those to a higher power (typically God), people and nature; to have a foundation of well-being, including joy and fulfilment, energy and peace; to have conviction; to have self-confidence, and to have an impetus for virtue.

In addition, James created an "unable to define" category.

The category includes responses, "Not sure," or "I don't know," from youths who self-reported being "spiritual."

This reveals that there may be a disconnect between classifying oneself as spiritual and defining what that entails, James said.

James said: "Although the assumption is that many people are 'spiritual,' spirituality is not something that is easy to articulate and define.

"People have a hard time separating spirituality from religion, but the differences are important to understanding behaviour and development."

The study, "Preliminary findings on qualitative exploration of children and youth's conceptualizations of spirituality," was presented at the 2010 Northwestern Black Graduate Student Association Conference. (ANI)

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Publication:Asian News International
Date:Jun 22, 2010
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