Dissertation Roundup: Drug Use and Young People, International Edition

Editor’s note: In today’s post, we highlight a few recent dissertations on drug use among young people from around the world. These entries are part of an ongoing drug-related dissertation bibliography being compiled by Jonathon Erlen, which was formerly published in the Social History of Alcohol and Drugs journal but is now periodically featured on the Points blog. Contact Dr. Erlen through the link above. Stay tuned for original content, coming soon!

The Development of Health Risk Behaviors by Mexican-Origin Youth

Author: Bacher, Kelly Beaumont

Abstract: This dissertation investigates the development of risky health behaviors by Mexican-origin youth. The two papers comprising this dissertation utilize data from a community sample of Mexican-origin adolescents participating in a prospective, longitudinal research study. Paper 1 examines the longitudinal relationship between ethnic discrimination and adolescent substance use behaviors. This study extends previous work by examining these processes in children of Mexican origin, who are often neglected in research on discrimination. Findings reveal that ethnic discrimination from peers at school predicts increases in substance use across a five-year period of adolescence. Paper 1 also assesses supportive parenting as a source of resilience by investigating potential compensatory and buffering effects on adolescent drug and alcohol use. Paper 2 examines the extent to which, during the transition from late childhood into adolescence, individual and contextual characteristics of female youth predict engagement in risky sexual behavior. This paper addresses a need in the current literature on sexual risk-taking by investigating predictors of this behavior for girls of Mexican origin, who often report higher levels of risky sexual behavior than other ethnic groups. Results indicate that early pubertal development and affiliating with deviant peers are important direct predictors of later sexual behavior. This study also examines indirect and transactional relationships between study variables. Together, these papers enhance our understanding of the family, peer, and personal characteristics of minority children that influence the development of health risk behaviors.

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