Can a caring community prevent teen drinking?
Is being part of a caring community the simple answer to preventing teen drinking?
Researchers at Penn State seem to think so. A recent study led by Damon Jones, research assistant professor in the Prevention Research Center for the Promotion of Human Development, found that teens who live in more involved, caring communities were less likely to use alcohol than teens who didn't have strong community ties.
It's all in the family
The researchers also found that teens with strong family relations were less likely to drink, as well as those with positive school experiences.
For the study, researchers analyzed data from over 200,000 teens in grades 8-10.
The factors that predicted teen drinking were antisocial behaviors, antisocial attitudes, and socializing with antisocial peers. Jones elaborates:
"We found that when you put all of the major risk and protective factors into the same predictive model, certain risk factors, such as antisocial peer risk, tended to be more highly predictive of alcohol use than other factors, like positive school experiences.”
But community reigns
While family influences did play a large role, the researchers note that community ties trumped family relationship in this study, meaning that even if a teen had a good family environment, if he didn't have a caring community atmosphere, he was more likely to drink.
The researchers hope to next research the different aspects of community and how they relate to teen drinking behavior, such as suburban vs. city or high vs. low income environments.
“If we can understand which of those factors are the most important predictors, we can target our prevention resources in a more effective way," said Jones.
Source: Penn State