[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Despite truancy being a common behavior among teenagers, little research has assessed its deleterious effects. In this study, the effect of truancy on the initiation of marijuana use was examined.
Using data from the Rochester Youth Development Study (a longitudinal sample of predominantly minority youth), discrete time survival analyses were estimated to assess the effect of truancy on the subsequent initiation of marijuana use. The current analyses used 5 years of panel data collected from youth and their primary caregiver every 6 months throughout adolescence.
Truancy was a significant predictor of the initiation of marijuana use during each subsequent 6-month period. The effect was more robust in earlier compared with later adolescence. These effects persisted after controlling for potential risk factors that are shared by both truancy and drug use, including commitment to school, grade-point average, delinquent values, prior involvement in delinquency, peer reactions to delinquency, parental monitoring, affective ties to the child, and positive parenting.
We argue that the effect is, in part, the result of reduced social control (i.e., disengagement from pro-social entities such as school) and, in part, the result of the unsupervised, unmonitored time afforded by truancy. Prevention initiatives aimed at reducing truancy also may have a beneficial impact on preventing the initiation of drug use among adolescents.
Journal of studies on alcohol and drugs 02/2009; 70(1):5-15. · 1.68 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The process of disengagement from prosocial entities (e.g., family and school) and either simultaneous or subsequent engagement with antisocial entities (e.g., friends who use drugs) is a critical contributor to adolescent drug use and delinquency. This study provides a series of formal mediation tests to demonstrate the relationship between poor family attachment, poor school attachment, involvement with friends who use drugs, and a student's own use of drugs. Results indicate that poor family attachment exerts its effect on drug use through poor school attachment and involvement with friends who use drugs. In addition, poor school attachment exerts its effect on drug use through involvement with friends who use drugs. The results of this study corroborate theories that suggest disengagement from prosocial entities is associated with involvement with antisocial entities and eventual involvement in drug use. Implications for prevention strategies are discussed.
Psychology of Addictive Behaviors 07/2008; 22(2):302-8. · 2.09 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Truancy is a serious concern in the United States. Its negative effects are so pervasive that in 2003 the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention named truancy prevention a national priority. Effective prevention of truancy requires a thorough understanding of the characteristics that describe truant youth as well as factors that may put them at risk for truancy. Unfortunately, surprisingly little is known about the correlates and/or causes of truancy. In this paper we explore associations between truancy and several salient school-related risk and protective factors among a sample of youth who grew up in socially disorganized neighborhoods of Denver, CO. We demonstrate that several school-related risk and protective factors are associated with truancy. Perhaps most importantly, we identify that the two most robust predictors are school performance and involvement with delinquent peers, and that these two variables form a synergistic relationship in which the relationship between delinquent peer association and truancy is mitigated among students who perform well in school. EDITORS' STRATEGIC IMPLICATIONS: The authors use data from a large probability sample drawn from neighborhoods with high crime rates to identify key correlates of truancy. They also draw attention to the dearth of efficacious truancy prevention efforts in spite of the magnitude of the problem.
The Journal of Primary Prevention 12/2007; 28(6):505-19. · 1.54 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study utilizes discrete-time survival analysis to assess the effect of level of academic achievement (both contemporaneously and prospectively) and changes in academic achievement on initiation of marijuana use among rural adolescents in junior high school. In the sample under consideration, 36% of boys and 23% of girls initiated use of marijuana by the end of ninth grade. Consistent with our hypothesis, poor academic achievement is a salient predictor of initiation of marijuana use among both boys and girls. Both contemporaneous and lagged levels of achievement significantly predict initiation. In addition, change in academic achievement is an important predictor of initiation. That is, students who demonstrate a deterioration of their academic achievement over time are more likely to start using marijuana. Poor academic achievement and deterioration of academic achievement should be considered as risk factors for initiation of marijuana use among rural adolescents. Initiatives targeted at improving academic achievement and/or drug use prevention initiatives designed for poor achieving students may help to prevent initiation of marijuana use.
Health Education Research 07/2007; 22(3):372-84. · 1.66 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To examine the relationship between truancy and the onset of drug use.
Discrete time survival analysis was used to assess the effect of truancy on initiation of drug use after adjusting for several potential confounders from age 11 to 15 years, using data from the Denver Youth Survey, a longitudinal sample of youth who grew up in socially disorganized neighborhoods of Denver, CO.
In this population, truancy was a significant predictor of initiation of alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana use. The robust effect of truancy persisted after controlling for potential confounders, including school performance, school isolation, association with delinquent peers, personal delinquent values, parental monitoring, and family attachment.
Although this study cannot point to a causal relationship, we argue that the effect may be at least in part due to the unsupervised, unmonitored time with peers that truancy affords a young person. Truancy prevention is a field of research that needs much more attention. Keeping youth in school every day is likely to have many beneficial effects, and effective truancy prevention efforts may also help to prevent or delay the onset of drug use among adolescents.
Journal of Adolescent Health 05/2007; 40(4):358.e9-17. · 2.97 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The school is a primary context for social interaction, cultivation of interpersonal skills, formation of peer groups, self-expression, and development of self. Several studies have demonstrated that the social context of the school has important implications for determining the likelihood that an adolescent will follow a prosocial path through adolescence as opposed to becoming involved in delinquent behavior.
Using a data set of 4,216 youth in 32 middle schools and junior high schools across the United States, this paper examines the effect of a student's own level of school attachment as well as the contextual level of school attachment (the normative level of school attachment in a school) on 5 alcohol-related measures: recent use of alcohol, intention to use alcohol, normative beliefs about peer use of alcohol, attitudes toward alcohol use, and aspirations consistent with alcohol use.
This study demonstrates that regardless of a student's own level of school attachment, students who attend schools where the pupils overall tend to be well attached to school are less likely to use alcohol. In addition, they also have lower intentions to use alcohol, perceive that fewer of their peers at school use alcohol, and more strongly hold aspirations that are inconsistent with alcohol use.
Our findings, along with the findings of related studies, provide support for the hypothesis that improvement of school climate may result in less substance use among students.
Journal of School Health 03/2007; 77(2):67-74. · 1.50 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Truancy is a serious concern that affects most school districts in the United States; however, we do not have accurate estimates of the prevalence of truancy due to inconsistent tracking and reporting practices of schools. As a result, our best current estimates of the national state of truancy may be from self-reported data. In this article, the first objective is to present the prevalence of self-reported recent truancy (ie, truancy within the past 4 weeks) among 8th- and 10th-grade students. The second objective is to explore associations between recent truant behavior, demographic and family characteristics, school-related risk factors, and drug use.
The 2003 wave of the Monitoring the Future data was analyzed. Logistic regression analysis was used to assess the association between many potential predictors and the probability of recent truancy.
Nearly, 11% of 8th graders and over 16% of 10th graders reported recent truancy. Among the most salient predictors of recent truancy were parental education, having large amounts of unsupervised time after school, school disengagement variables (eg, poor grades and low educational aspirations), and drug use.
Truancy is a common behavior among adolescents and can have potentially deleterious effects. This paper offers insight into the types of students who may be prone to skipping school and suggests potential target audiences for truancy prevention initiatives.
Journal of School Health 02/2007; 77(1):29-35. · 1.50 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Prior to 2004, ephedra had been readily available to adolescents. Due to reports that use of ephedra produced a number of serious adverse consequences, including death, sales of the compound became illegal in the United States on April 12, 2004. Data are presented from a random sample of 156,050 students in grades 7 through 12 from 185 rural communities across the United States who completed the Community Drug and Alcohol Survey. This study provides a valuable epidemiological benchmark of reported rates of lifetime prevalence of ephedra by adolescents living in rural America before the sale of the drug became illegal (data were collected between 1996 and 2001). While there were small regional, racial, and gender differences, rates of adolescent use were, in general, very low. The highest rates of ephedra use were found among youth using other drugs, particularly stimulants. The study's limitations and implications are discussed.
Substance Use & Misuse 02/2007; 42(6):949-59. · 1.11 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Model programs and standards for substance abuse prevention have been identified by a number of federal agencies. The study reported here assessed two methods of delivery of one such program, Life Skills Training (LST), implemented in nine rural disadvantaged school districts. The results indicate that neither standard LST nor an infused LST delivery method was found effective for the entire sample, although some encouraging results were found for the females in the study. This study, conducted by researchers independent of the LST program, is useful for school decision makers in determining what programs are most effective with which groups. It included all students with parental permission, controlling for prior use levels, unlike some previous LST studies. The results of the program, as implemented by regular classroom teachers, reflect many issues relevant to recruitment, training, implementation, adaptation, and institutionalization of prevention programming.
Health Education & Behavior 07/2006; 33(3):325-39. · 1.54 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study determined multivariate sets of predictors for verbal and physical aggression among rural middle school youth. Surveys were obtained from 1,440 7th and 8th grade youth from six middle schools in five geographically dispersed states. Multivariate logistic regression identified final predictive models. Similar, but varying sets of predictors were identified across types of aggression. The most consistent set of predictors was gender, family actions against violence, peer violence, anger, academic performance, and alcohol use. These results suggest that in comparison with past studies of non-rural youth, similar factors predict aggressive behavior among urban and non-urban youth. Editors' Strategic Implications: This paper makes two contributions to our understanding of the contextual factors influencing youth violence. First, it indicates that the predictive factors for rural and non-rural youth violence are similar. Second, it confirms the role of both family and peers in influencing such violence. Those who design and implement programs and polices addressing youth violence must look beyond individual variables in order to create comprehensive strategies.
The Journal of Primary Prevention 06/2006; 27(3):229-43. · 1.54 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study tests the impact of an in-school mediated communication campaign based on social marketing principles, in combination with a participatory, community-based media effort, on marijuana, alcohol and tobacco uptake among middle-school students. Eight media treatment and eight control communities throughout the US were randomly assigned to condition. Within both media treatment and media control communities, one school received a research-based prevention curriculum and one school did not, resulting in a crossed, split-plot design. Four waves of longitudinal data were collected over 2 years in each school and were analyzed using generalized linear mixed models to account for clustering effects. Youth in intervention communities (N = 4,216) showed fewer users at final post-test for marijuana [odds ratio (OR) = 0.50, P = 0.019], alcohol (OR = 0.40, P = 0.009) and cigarettes (OR = 0.49, P = 0.039), one-tailed. Growth trajectory results were significant for marijuana (P = 0.040), marginal for alcohol (P = 0.051) and non-significant for cigarettes (P = 0.114). Results suggest that an appropriately designed in-school and community-based media effort can reduce youth substance uptake. Effectiveness does not depend on the presence of an in-school prevention curriculum.
Health Education Research 03/2006; 21(1):157-67. · 1.66 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The study examines the dynamic relationship between school bonding, beliefs about the deleterious effects of substance use on future aspirations, and subsequent substance use among a sample of 1065 male and female middle school students. First, a mediation model was assessed. Adolescents' perceptions about the harmful effects of substance use on their future aspirations emerged as a salient mediator of the relationship between school bonding and subsequent substance use. Second, the intraindividual variability of school bonding and its effect on students' beliefs about the potential harm of substance use on future aspirations was assessed through random-coefficient models. Students who tended to be poorly bonded to school were less likely to perceive that substance use may impede the attainment of their future goals. Furthermore, a strong intraindividual effect of school bonding was observed, indicating that as a student became more or less bonded to school his/her belief that substance use could affect future aspirations similarly changed.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Friends' substance use, sensation seeking and low perceived harm are well-established risk factors for substance use, but they are often treated as stable factors that affect adolescents' likelihood of substance use. This study instead explores the effects of changes in risk factors for individual adolescents.
Participants in this study were 1,065 male and female students. The students were in sixth or seventh grade at the initial survey and provided survey data on three additional occasions over a period of 2 years. Random-coefficient models were used to assess the intraindividual variability of friends' alcohol use, perceived harm, and risk taking and their effect on alcohol use.
As expected, the overall number of alcohol-using friends is correlated with a student's own alcohol use. In addition, there is a dynamic relationship within student; as friends' alcohol use changes over time, it is accompanied by parallel changes in alcohol use by the individual. Two moderating variables of the effect of friends' use of alcohol were validated: perceived harm of alcohol use and risk taking. The effect of increased exposure to alcohol-using friends is more robust during times when an adolescent also has become less likely to perceive the harmful effects of alcohol use or when an adolescent indicates increased interest in risk-taking behavior.
Although friends' use of alcohol is a salient predictor of an adolescent's own use of alcohol, some types of students are more likely than others to be influenced by friends' behavior, In particular, students' perception of harm and predisposition to risk taking are important moderators of the effect of friends' influence.
Journal of studies on alcohol 04/2005; 66(2):275-83.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study assessed Life Skills Training effects for rural middle school females classified at low or high risk for initiation or increased use of substances. Risk domains included socioeconomic status, family relations and functioning, psychological health, and academic performance. The program does not address these risk variables directly, attempting instead to improve protective factors for participants. The strongest effects were found for the high-risk group, with some continuing treatment effects after two years, in substance use and protective skills competencies. Early effects for low risk subjects were lost by the end of second year programming. The findings underscore the need to choose prevention programs and protective skills components more selectively based on risk variables affecting the target population. Editors’ Strategic Implications: This article includes the following strategy that shows promise. School and community administrators should consider the academic and SES risk status of students in order to select appropriate prevention program components for their local settings. The authors examine the degree to which an evidence-based Life Skills Training program can be “infused” into the ongoing routine of the school. This is a timely issue, and the authors address substance abuse prevention in rural areas with a strong experimental, longitudinal design, a validated curriculum and measures, and a clear focus on the impact of high versus low risk status for female participants.
The Journal of Primary Prevention 11/2004; 25(4):399-416. · 1.54 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study examined the relationship between risk-taking, general acceptance of aggression (GAA), verbal harassment (VH), and aggressive behavior (AB) in the last 30 days among 1440 seventh- and eighth-grade rural middle school youth. Higher levels of risk-taking predicted higher GAA and VH. Significant interactions for AB indicated that, excepting Black youth, higher risk-taking was related to higher levels of violent behavior. Among Black youth the highest levels of AB occurred at moderate levels of risk-taking. Level of risk-taking is an important risk factor that should be taken into account in the study of attitudes toward aggression and aggressive behavior among rural youth.
Violence and Victims 05/2004; 19(2):157-70. · 1.28 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study reports on findings from the first two years of a study to compare a standard Life Skill Training (LST) program with an infused (I-LST) approach. Nine small, rural school districts were randomly assigned to LST, I-LST, or control conditions in grade seven. The LST program significantly reduced alcohol use, binge drinking, marijuana use, and inhalant use after one year for females, and the I-LST program significantly reduced smoking, binge drinking, and marijuana use for females. At the end of the second year the I-LST program continued to impact female smoking, but all other results were non-significant. There were no effects on males at either time point.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We hypothesize that the relationship between teen use of violent media and aggressiveness is contingent on personality and situational variables. Concurrent effects are modeled in four waves of data collection using multilevel analyses. Results indicate that the effect of violent media on aggression is more robust among students who report feelings of alienation from school and during times of increased peer victimization. Although overall use of violent media is associated with higher levels of aggression, a robust within individual effect also exists; that is, during times when a student is viewing elevated levels of violent media content relative to the student’s own norms for use of such media, he or she is also more likely to demonstrate heightened levels of aggression. This relationship is more robust among students who are victimized by their peers and experiencing increased sensation seeking.
Communication Research 01/2004; 31(6):642-668. · 2.01 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The authors report the effect of active parental consent on sample bias among rural seventh graders participating in a drug abuse prevention trial. Students obtaining active consent from their parents to complete the survey were of higher academic standing, missed fewer days of school, and were less likely to participate in the special education program at their school as compared to students who did not return a parental consent form. However, students with consent were not significantly different from students whose parents actively declined. The sample obtained under active parental consent represents students less at risk for problem behaviors than would have been obtained under passive consent procedures.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Theory and research on media violence provides evidence that aggressive youth seek out media violence and that media violence prospectively predicts aggression in youth. The authors argue that both relationships, when modeled over time, should be mutually reinforcing, in what they call a downward spiral model. This study uses multilevel modeling to examine individual growth curves in aggressiveness and violent media use. The measure of use of media violence included viewing action films, playing violent computer and video games, and visiting violence-oriented Internet sites by students from 20 middle schools in 10 different regions in the United States. The findings appear largely consistent with the proposed model. In particular, concurrent effects of aggressiveness on violent-media use and concurrent and lagged effects of violent media use on aggressiveness were found. The implications of this model for theorizing about media effects on youth, and for bridging active audience with media effects perspectives, are discussed.
Communication Research 01/2003; 30(6):713-736. · 2.01 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Surveyed 7th graders at the beginning and end of the school year to examine factors in three domains (intrapersonal, interpersonal, and personal competencies) influencing the increase in alcohol use throughout 7th grade. Factors from all three domains significantly predicted increases in alcohol use. Lack of parental monitoring and perceived ease of access were the strongest predictors. (SM)