Researchers have pinned happiness at school and home as key determinant factor for a child’s likelihood to indulge in “risky” behaviour or not.
According to a study led by researchers at Liverpool John Moores University‘s Centre for Public Health, 11-14 year olds who show lack of interest in academic studies are prone to early sex adventures and alcoholism.
The study questioned 3,641 children aged 11 to 14 living in north-west England about sex and alcohol use, as well as asking about their general well-being, including how happy they are with the way they look, how well they get on with their parents, whether they like school and how their teachers treat them.
The findings show that children who said they do not feel school is a nice place to be are two-and-a-half times more likely to be involved in any sexual activity, and 86% more likely to be having sexual craves.
The study adds that the latter figure is not statistically significant. Pupils who said they dislike school are also more likely to drink alcohol.
Children who said they do not have a happy home life, or said they are unable to talk to parents about their problems had the highest odds of ever drinking.
The study concluded: “Clearly, children involved with risky health behaviours are most in need of guidance and support through school programmes, but they appear to be the very children who poorly engage and are thus less receptive to learning new skills.”
The findings also show a strong link between alcohol and sexual activity.
Children drinking once a week or more had 12-fold higher odds of any sexual activity, and 10-fold higher odds of having sex, it said.
Lead researcher Professor Mark Bellis said: “Our study identifies that the children who drink and are sexually active are also more likely to be unhappy with their school and home lives.”
The Uk study however coincides with a research in America which claims that Latin middle school students are more likely to drink, smoke cigarettes and use marijuana than peers of other races or ethnicities.
The US study claims Asian students appear to have the lowest risk of substance use, according to RAND Corporation researchers.
The researchers studied 5,500 seventh and eighth graders at 16 California schools.
Personal factors were at play in the youths’ decision whether or not to use drugs or alcohol, researchers found.
For instance, Latin students’ confidence in their ability to say “no” and the extent of their belief that smoking, drinking and drug use had negative consequences were major factors.
The same personal factors did not exist as much among Asian teens. Respect for their parents also seemed to play a significant role in their choices to abstain from drinking. Lower rates of drug and alcohol use among older siblings were also a factor.
The researchers said their findings could help tailor intervention programs in the future.
A report on the study is published in the September issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.
The study was funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
…and fancy this about phone text-ing
Dr. Scott Frank, director of the Case Western Reserve School of Medicine Master of Public Health program, said in a statement that teens who texted excessively are 40 percent more likely to have tried cigarettes, two times more likely to have tried alcohol, 43 percent more likely to be binge drinkers, 41 percent more likely to have used illicit drugs, 55 percent more likely to have been in a physical fight, almost three-and-a-half times more likely to have had sex and 90 percent more likely to report four or more sexual partners.
Frank made his comments at the American Public Health Association’s 138th Annual Meeting & Exposition in Denver, CO.
He defined hyper-texting as texting more than 120 messages per school day. He said hyper-texting was reported in almost 20 percent of the teens he and his team surveyed. Many of the “hyper-texting” teens were female, from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, minorities and had no father at home.
Spending too much time – more than three hours per school day — on social networking websites also appears risky to young people’s health, Frank said. This behavior was reported by 11.5 percent of the survey participants. It is associated with stress, depression, suicide, substance use, fighting, poor sleep, poor academics, television watching and parental dismissiveness.
Hyper-networking teens are 62 percent more likely to have tried cigarettes, 79 percent more likely to have tried alcohol, 69 percent more likely to be binge drinkers, 84 percent more likely to have used illicit drugs, 94 percent more likely to have been in a physical fight, 69 percent more likely to have had sex and 60 percent more likely to report four or more sexual partners, Frank said.
*David Goodhue – AHN News Reporter