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Family Structure as a Predictor of Initial Substance Use and Sexual Intercourse in Early Adolescence

Robert L. Flewelling and Karl E. Bauman
Journal of Marriage and Family
Vol. 52, No. 1 (Feb., 1990), pp. 171-181
DOI: 10.2307/352848
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/352848
Page Count: 11
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Family Structure as a Predictor of Initial Substance Use and Sexual Intercourse in Early Adolescence
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Abstract

Research on the relationship between family structure and use of controlled substances by children has produced inconsistent results. Furthermore, some authors have suggested that the confounding influence of socioeconomic characteristics may be largely responsible for the positive associations that have been observed. A two-year prospective study of 2,102 young adolescents in ten southeastern cities was used to assess the relationship between family structure (intact, single-parent, or stepparent) and whether cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana, and sexual intercourse had ever been tried. Logistic regression results show significantly higher levels of ever-usage for children of nonintact families. These differences are not diminished when age, race, sex, and mother's education are controlled. The results imply that children of disrupted families are at a higher risk of initiating the use of controlled substances and engaging in sexual intercourse, and that a firmer understanding of the mechanisms that underlie this association is needed.

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