Academic journal article Social Work Research

Understanding the Dimensions of Parental Influence on Alcohol Use and Alcohol Refusal Efficacy among African American Adolescents

Academic journal article Social Work Research

Understanding the Dimensions of Parental Influence on Alcohol Use and Alcohol Refusal Efficacy among African American Adolescents

Article excerpt

Empirical evidence indicates that parental factors may be important protective factors for adolescents. Less is known about the dimensions of parental influence on alcohol use among African American adolescents. The purpose of this investigation was to examine parental influence and its relationship to alcohol refusal efficacy and use among African American adolescents and how it differs according to community type, gender, and age. A total of 564 African American fifth-, eighth-, and 12th-grade students participated in this study. The findings suggest that several dimensions of parenting affect alcohol use of children in both direct and indirect ways. Parental monitoring and control, parental disapproval of alcohol use, and relationships with mothers and fathers directly affected alcohol use, alcohol refusal efficacy, or both. Several of the direct effects were attenuated by community type, gender, and age, suggesting the need to examine the context and conditions under which alcohol is more likely to be consumed by African American youths. Implications for research and prevention programming are offered.

KEY WORDS: drugs; substance use; youths

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Most adolescent drug prevention programs are school based and teach youths strategies to manage peer pressure to refuse drugs. However, the number of family-based prevention programs that include both parents and children is growing. These programs are based on evidence that factors such as parental drug use (Brook, Whiteman, Balka, & Cohen, 1997), parental monitoring (Stattin & Kerr, 2000), quality of the parent-adolescent relationship (Bahr, Hoffman, & Yang, 2005), and parental attitudes concerning drug use (Yu, 2003) have direct effects on drug use and buffer against the negative influence of peers during adolescence. Yet little research has been devoted to studying the dimensions of parental influence and its relationship to drug use in general and alcohol use in particular among African American adolescents. Understanding what contributes to alcohol use (or nonuse) is important because alcohol is a "legal" drug (albeit not for those under 21) that is readily accessible in many African American neighborhoods and communities (Wallace & Muroff, 2002).

A need exists to identify how parents can use their influence to reduce domain-specific peer risk factors on the attitudes and behaviors of their children (Brooks-Gunn & Markman, 2005; Chapple, Hope, & Whiteford, 2005; Drapela & Mosher, 2007). This is especially important for youths who may not have access to extracurricular, faith-based, or community programs that often provide protective buffers against peer and community risks (Brooks-Gunn & Markman, 2005; Burlew et al., 2009; Drapela & Mosher, 2007; Hirschi, 1969). In these cases, parental influences may be the lone or strongest protective factor against not only alcohol and drug use, but other youth risk behaviors, including premature sexual behaviors and delinquency (Brooks-Gunn & Markman, 2005; Chapple et al., 2005; Drapela & Mosher, 2007; Hirschi, 1969; Patterson, DeBaryche, & Meece, 1989).

In this study, we focused on alcohol use because it is one of the primary drugs of choice among youths, it is easily accessible, and African American youths are exposed to alcohol advertising at substantially higher rates than youths from other ethnic groups (Wallace & Muroff, 2002).We explored how dimensions of parental influence on alcohol refusal efficacy and use among African American adolescents differs according to community type (that is, urban or rural), gender, and age. Previous studies have found differences in the prevalence and patterns of predictors of alcohol use among African American adolescents living in rural and urban communities. In a study of 907 African American students in grades 10 and 12, Clark, Nguyen, and Belgrave (in press) found that peer and individual risk/protective factors were more influential for urban youths and that family and community risk/protective factors were more influential for rural youths. …

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