Students' Attitudes regarding Substance Abuse and Preventive Actions of the Police

By Karlovic, Ruza; Vukosav, Josko et al. | Alcoholism, January 1, 2009 | Go to article overview

Students' Attitudes regarding Substance Abuse and Preventive Actions of the Police


Karlovic, Ruza, Vukosav, Josko, Borovec, Krunoslav, Alcoholism


INTRODUCTION

The American Psychiatrie Association and the World Health Organization define drugs as every substance that if taken into organism can modify one or more functions.1,2 Sakoman defines drugs as different chemical substances of natural or artificial origin, with psychoactive activity which lead to addiction.3 One of the key words in this paper is, besides drugs, young people in adolescence. This phase of human life is often characterized by curiosity. Young people during adolescence pass through different changes, both psychophysical and sociological changes. Those changes bring with themselves possible risks of deviant behaviour, as the mentioned drug experimenting is. The total percentage of children who used drugs is as high as 9.1%, which is very worrying. When asked whether using drugs was a pleasure, 80% of the young from this sample said it was not. This piece of information points to the thesis suggesting that for the majority of adolescents taking drugs is only an escape from their real life, a life full of problems and frustrations, especially if they do not have a stable family. Young people are naïve in believing that if they only try some of the drugs they will not become addicts. Unfortunately, the reality is different. When explaining a possible aetiology of substance abuse in the early phase of adolescence, it would be convenient to state how that phenomenon is seen by the Social Control Theory.4 Supporters of this theory put great emphasis on the process of primary and secondary socialisation, i.e. the life period of adolescence. The main thesis of this theory is that the criminal behaviour is a consequence of the »social bond« weakening. One of the most famous theorists of the Control Theory, Hirschi, says that the four types of »social bond« have a significant role in the society control. The four bonds are attachment, commitment, involvement and beliefs. Attachment refers primarily to parents and children, i.e. the family in the primary phase of socialisation. Cornmitment implies nourishing of values, norms and behaviour acquired in the family. Involvement includes children and young people's activities which distract them from deviant behaviour as well as the belief in the tightness of the moral and dominant norms in the society.

By searching the database we were not able to find a study that would analyse students' attitudes towards the police involvement in the creation of substance abuse preventive programmes in the high school education system. So, we decided to do a research with the aim to examine the attitudes of the first year high school students in Zagreb regarding substance abuse as well as preventive actions performed by the police. The aim of this paper is get an insight into young people's attitudes towards drugs and the police as an institution which deals with substance abuse prevention. The aim is also to take measures, based on the obtained results, through the cooperation of educational institutions, mostly schools, which are very important in the phase of young people's secondary socialisation.

SUBJECTS AND METHODS

Subjects

The total sample of subjects in this paper consisted of the first year High School students from Zagreb (N=1220). Zagreb Police Headquarters, i.e. the Info Centre for prevention in collaboration with the City Office for Education, Culture and Sports and the City Office for Health, Labour, Social Protection and War Veterans carried out a survey among this population as part of the addiction prevention programme called »No, because no«. The subjects were chosen on the sample of 519 boys (42.5%) and 700 girls (57.4%), aged between 14 and 18 years, mean 15.7 years. Fifteen High schools from Zagreb were chosen randomly with the lottery method. From the obtained results it can be seen that in 14.3% of cases only the father was employed in the family, in 6.7% only the mother, while in 2.4% none of the parents was employed. In the biggest number of families (77%) both parents were employed. …

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