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Roger Levesque
Department of Criminal Justice

Last modified: Monday, May 3, 2004

IUB criminal justice professor honored for book about religion and adolescence

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Roger J.R. Levesque

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Roger J. R. Levesque, professor in the Department of Criminal Justice at Indiana University Bloomington, recently received the Society for Research on Adolescence Outstanding Book Award for his book, Not by Faith Alone: Religion, Law and Adolescence (New York University Press, 2002).

The international society is the largest professional group devoted to the study of adolescence. The society's award recognizes books which make a foundational contribution to the study of adolescence and shape social debates about adolescents' place in society.

Not by Faith Alone explores the place of religious faith in adolescent development. The book looks at how matters of faith necessarily serve as powerful positive influences on adolescents, as well as how they can become destructive and lead to personal and social harm.

Levesque became interested in the topic when he found that criminal justice experts were increasingly moving toward faith-based efforts to help prevent youth crime, an effort that actually paralleled the efforts of illicit groups who used religious themes to recruit youth and foster violence. The move toward faith-based efforts also was particularly interesting to Levesque because of his interest in family violence, another area of study that frequently cites religious beliefs as a possible cause of violence toward women and children. The tension between extremes of health and pathology figures prominently in the book, and that tension is used to chart ways the legal system can be harnessed to respond more effectively to adolescents' needs and provide them -- and everyone else -- with greater opportunities to flourish in our democratic society.

Levesque's work is not new to the Society for Research on Adolescence. At its 2002 meeting, his empirical work on adolescent romantic relationships was cited as the ground-breaking study of normal adolescent development of intimacy. At the society's most recent meeting, it was noted that the study of romantic relationships now constitutes one of the most favored and fastest growing areas of research on adolescent development.

Levesque also is well regarded for his research on violence against children and adolescents. In addition to numerous journal articles in this area, he has published three books on that topic: Child Sexual Abuse: A Human Rights Perspective (Indiana University Press, 1999), Culture and Family Violence: Fostering Change Through Human Rights Law (American Psychological Association, 2001), and Child Maltreatment Law: Foundations in Science, Practice and Policy (Carolina Academic, 2002). His writings seek to shape ways we could better recognize the place of adolescents and children in families and society in order to shape more effective policies.

His interest in shaping policies takes the form of what he sees as a need for a more sophisticated "adolescent jurisprudence." That recognition has led him to focus on ways to rethink the rights of adolescents in a way more consistent with adolescents' social and psychological realities. It is in this area that his work on adolescents' faith emerged. That work continues his efforts to address how the law can be better used to shape adolescents' lives. Most notably, he has written about adolescents' sexuality in Adolescents, Sex and the Law: Preparing Adolescents for Responsible Citizenship (American Psychological Association, 2000) and Sexuality Education: What Adolescents' Rights Require (Nova Science, 2003), and about their self-sacrificing tendencies in Dangerous Adolescents, Model Adolescents: Shaping the Role and Promise of Education (Plenum, 2002). He currently is completing a book that examines adolescents' access to controversial media, a project that again seeks to understand ways to address adolescents' needs and realities.

Levesque came to IU in 2002, after serving as professor of law and psychology at the University of Arizona. Prior to his position at Arizona, he had started his career at IU in the Department of Criminal Justice in 1995.