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Youth Development Study

Abstracts pt. 3

Abstracts Page 3 (11-15)

Substance use behaviours of young people with a moderate learning disability: A Longitudinal Analysis .  American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse.  McCrystal, P., Percy, A. & Higgins, K., (2007) 33, 1, 155-161.

Substance use behaviours of young people attending a special school are reported over a four year period from the age of 12-16 years.  The paper investigated these behaviours by surveying a cohort of young people with a statement for moderate learning disabilities annually during the last four years of compulsory schooling.  The findings show that these young people consistently reported lower levels of tobacco, alcohol and cannabis use compared with those attending mainstream school.  No other illicit drug use was reported.  The potential implications of these findings are discussed in relation to the context and timing of targeted substance education and prevention initiatives for young people with moderate learning disability attending a special school.

 Drug Use amongst young people attending emotional and behavioural difficulty units during adolescence: A longitudinal analysis Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties.  McCrystal, P., Percy, A. & Higgins, K., (2007) 12, 1 49-68.

This paper reports on the findings from a longitudinal survey of the drug use behaviours of young people who were attending Emotional and Behavioural Difficulty (EBD) units from the age of 11-16 years.  It forms part of the Belfast Youth Development Study, a longitudinal study of adolescent drug use.  This paper presents a follow-up report to a cross-sectional paper that reported on drug use behaviours of a sample of young people attending EBD units when aged 12/13 years at school year 9 (McCrystal et al 2005a).  In the present paper reported drug use and behaviours associated with increased risk of its use between the ages of 11-16 years were examined.  The findings show that those attending EBD Units consistently reported higher levels of licit and illicit drug use throughout adolescence.  Compared with young people in mainstream school, higher levels of behaviours associated with drug use including antisocial behaviour, disaffection with school, and poor communication with their parents/guardians were noted.  These findings have implications for the development and timing of targeted prevention initiatives for young people attending EBD units at all stages of adolescent development.

 Drug Use Patterns and Behaviours of Young People at an Increased Risk of Drug Abuse during Adolescence.  International Journal of Drug Policy 17, 393-401 McCrystal, P., Percy, A., & Higgins, K. (2006).

The drug use patterns and behaviours of 90 young people who reported cannabis use from the age of 11/12 years when they entered postprimary schooling and continued to report its use during three further annual data waves of the Belfast Youth Development Study (a longitudinal study of the onset and development of adolescent drug use) until the age of 15 are examined in this paper.  The data collected from these young people revealed high levels of both licit and illicit drug use compared with young people who have not used cannabis by the age of 15.  The findings perhaps suggest the existence of a ‘hidden’ high risk group of young people who continue to attend school regularly.  This raises the question about the extent to which their needs are being met by existing school based drugs education and prevention initiatives which are often delivered through a standardized strategy for all school aged young people. 

 School Exclusion Drug Use and Delinquency in Adolescence.  Journal of Adolescence 29, 829-836 McCrystal, P., Percy, A., & Higgins, K. (2006) .

Twenty-nine young people aged 12-13 years considered to be a high risk of substance abuse primarily because they longer attend mainstream school were interviewed about drug using behaviours.  The evidence in this paper suggests that many are already at a high risk to problem drug use compared with their peers in mainstream education.  As they are excluded from school they are not accessing school based prevention programmes delivered to their contemporaries at school suggesting that additional resources are needed to fully meet their requirements in relation to identifying and delivering appropriate drug prevention strategies. 

 Adolescent Substance Abuse Among Young People Excluded from School in Belfast.   Drugs: Education Policy and Prevention12, 101-113   McCrystal, P., Higgins, K., Percy, A., & Thornton, M.(2005).

The lifestyles of young people excluded from school have received much attention recently, particularly in relation to illicit drug use.  Commentators have acknowledged that they constitute a high-risk group to social disaffection and substance abuse.  This paper reports on a group of 48 young people living in Belfast aged 13-14 years who are considered to be at a particularly high risk to substance abuse because they are excluded from school.  The evidence in this paper suggests that many are already exhibiting potentially high risk behaviours to problem drug use compared with their contemporaries in mainstream education.  The paper examines the evidence within the context of a limited existing literature base on this group of young people.  It suggests that a more focused approach is required for the development of appropriate drug prevention strategies to meet their needs.