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Impact of parent monitoring on initiation of drug use through late childhood.

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Department of Psychiatry, Henry Ford Health Sciences Center, Detroit, MI 48202, USA.



To examine whether parental supervision and monitoring in middle childhood might have a sustained impact on risk of drug use later in childhood and adolescence.


An epidemiological sample of 926 urban-dwelling youths were individually interviewed annually, beginning in 1989 when the children were 8 to 10 years old, continuing through 1992. Standardized questions measured drug use, parenting behaviors, and other suspected determinants of drug use.


Survival analysis estimates indicated that children in the lowest quartile of parent monitoring initiated drug use at earlier ages. The contrast in risk of initiating alcohol, tobacco, or other drug use across levels of parent monitoring was greatest when children were under 11 years old; at older ages there was no difference in risk. However, in analyses focused specifically on marijuana, cocaine, and inhalant drugs, we observed a sustained higher risk of starting to use these drugs among youths who had been monitored at the lowest levels in middle childhood.


These results add to the chain of inference that effective supervision and monitoring in middle childhood by parents or guardians might induce a delay or prevent onset of drug use among youths living in urban areas, a hypothesis that now ought to be tested in rigorous field experiments.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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