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Youth Development Study

Abstracts pt. 4

Abstracts Page 4 (16-19)

Substance Abuse among 12 and 13-year old Young People in Belfast at a High Risk of Developing Problem Drug Use, Child Care in Practice, 11, 3, 313-322.  McCrystal, P., Higgins, K., Percy, A., & Thornton, M.  (2005).

Twenty-nine young people aged 12-13 years considered to be at a high risk of substance abuse primarily because they no longer attend mainstream school participated in the study by completing a questionnaire designed to obtain information on their drug using behaviours.  The evidence in this paper suggests that many of them are already at a high risk for problem drug use compared with their peers in mainstream education.  This is heightened by the fact they are excluded from school and are not accessing school based prevention programmes delivered to their contemporaries at school.  The paper concludes by suggetsing that additional resources are needed to fully meet their requirements in relation to identifying and delivering appropriate drug prevention strategies. 

 Response consistency in young adolescents’ drug use self-reports: a recanting rate analysis.  Addiction, 100, 189-196.  Percy, A., McAllister, S., Higgins, K., McCrystal, P., & Thornton, M.   (2005).

This study aimed to assess the reliability of drug use reports by young respondents, by examining the extent of recanting previous drug use reports within an ongoing longitudinal survey of adolescent drug use. Recanting was defined as a positive report of lifetime drug use that was subsequently denied one year later. The covariates of recanting were also studied. Data was collected from an ongoing longitudinal survey of young adolescents (Belfast Youth Development Study) in Northern Ireland. Which uses pencil and paper questionnaires were administered to pupils within participating schools to investigate drug use and related behaviours.  This study was concerned with (a) recanting rates across 13 substances, (b) educational characteristics, (c) offending behaviour and (d) socio-economic status. The study shows high levels of drug use recanting were identified ranging from 7% of past alcohol use to 87% of past magic mushroom use.  Recanting increased with the social stigma of the substance used. Denying past alcohol use was associated with being male, attending a catholic school, having positive attitudes towards school, having negative education expectations and not reporting any offending behaviour. Recanting alcohol intoxication was associated with being male and not reporting serious offending behaviour. Cannabis recanting was associated with having negative education expectations, receiving drugs education and not reporting serious offending behaviour. The high levels of recanting uncovered raises doubt about reliability of drug use reports from young adolescents. Failure to address this response error may lead to biased prevalence estimates particularly within school surveys and drug education evaluation trials.

Drug use amongst 12 and 13 year olds attending emotional and behavioral difficulty units in Belfast, Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties 10 (3), 203-218 McCrystal, P., Higgins, K., Percy, A., & Thornton, M.  (2005) .

This paper reports on the findings from a survey of 12 and 13 year old young people with statements of special educational needs who are attending Emotional and Behavioural Difficulty Units in Belfast.  The existing literature in the area of special educational suggests that a gap in contemporary empirical evidence for drug use behaviours of adolescents attending EBD Units and other special educational facilities exists at present.  In attempting to redress this knowledge gap, the findings from the present study support the opinions of commentators in the field that young people attending EBD Units are at a high risk of illicit drug use in comparison with their contemporaries in mainstream education.

Emerging Patterns in Adolescent Drug Use in Northern Ireland: The Belfast Youth Development Study, Child Care in Practice, 1, 73-83 McCrystal, P., Higgins, K., Percy, A., & Thornton, M. (2003).

This paper reports the findings from the first two years of the Belfast Youth Development Study (BYDS).  The BYDS is a five year longitudinal investigation of the onset and development of adolescent drug using behaviour.  The findings of the first two years from the study in relation to drug use patterns among the young people participating in the research are reported here.  The findings show that whilst the majority of young people have not yet used an illicit substance, the study has seen a substantial increase in the numbers using such substances between year 1 and year 2.  Boys still make up the majority of drug users in this period but there has been a substantial increase in the number of girls using illicit drugs and, more generally, an increase in the frequency of use amongst all those using such substances during this period.

School Exclusion Drug Use and Antisocial Behaviour at 15/16 years: Implications for Youth Transitions (2007), Vulnerable Children and Youth Studies, 2,3, 181-190

Young people excluded from school face additional challenges compared with their contemporaries in mainstream school throughout adolescence particularly at the end of compulsory schooling when aged 16 years.  This paper reports on the experiences of 77 young people excluded from school at year 12 when aged 15/16, years participating in the Belfast Youth Development Study during the period immediately prior to the end of compulsory schooling.  The findings provide a profile of the lives of these young people as they approach the developmental period referred to as ‘youth transitions’.  These young people reported high levels of antisocial behaviour and increasing detachment from the norms of mainstream society at a time when most young people are preparing to make the transition from adolescence to adulthood.  This raises questions about the impact of targeted initiatives for addressing disaffection with school and their value for preparing young people for the transition to adulthood who may instead enter a period of NEET (Not in Education Employment or Training).