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Teen Health 411
Teen Health 411

Alcohol Use and School Attachment

Alcohol use in middle school has become an increasing concern after the 2003 wave of the Monitoring the Future study reported that 20% of the 8th graders completing a survey reported having ever been drunk, and 7% reported having been drunk in the last 30 days. This is an obviously disturbing fact by itself, but to make matters worse, we know that addiction that starts early is harder to control as an adult.

A research article in the February 2007 issue of the Journal of School Health suggested that improving the school climate may result in less substance abuse among students. This conclusion is based on their results which suggest that regardless of a student's own level of school attachment, students who attend schools where pupils tend to be attached to the schools are less likely to use alcohol, have less intention to use alcohol, and perceive that fewer other students in school use alcohol.

Their data was collected between 1999 and 2003 from 4,216 youth in 32 middle and junior high schools across the United States using the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The results of this study would suggest that while most interventions attempt to change individual behavior, the more effective interventions may focus on changing the school climate to enhance attachment to school. Attachment is stronger when the school environment is pleasant, there are positive bonds between faculty and students, when teachers and students participate in activities together, and that student have the opportunity to serve in leadership roles.

Photo Credit: Blind Grasshopper

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About the Author

Dr. Brown is a developmental psychologist specializing in adolescent health.

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