Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Jailed Dads Tied to Greater Risk of Kids’ Drug Use

Kids whose dads have put in time behind bars may be at a greater risk for using marijuana and other illegal drugs, according to a new study

From an October 20 Reuters Health Information press release

By Lynne Peeples

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Kids whose dads have put in time behind bars may be at a greater risk for using marijuana and other illegal drugs, according to a new study.

The incarcerated population of the U.S. has grown from 250,000 in the mid-1970s to about 2.25 million today. Rising alongside has been the number of kids growing up with a parent that has served jail time: now about 7.5 million.

In other words, one out of every eight young people in the U.S. now has a father that has been incarcerated, notes lead researcher Michael E. Roettger, formerly of Bowling Green State University in Ohio and now at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

“In the context of the massive increases in incarceration in the U.S. and growing number of children being affected, we wanted to know what issues these children would likely face,” Roettger told Reuters Health. “It appears that drug use is one of the unintended consequences of these rising rates.”

Already on the troubling list, he added, were increased risks for mental health problems, criminal behavior, dropping out of high school, family instability and poverty

To determine the extent of the role a father’s incarceration might play in youth drug use, Roettger and his colleagues looked at data from about 150,000 young men and women followed from adolescence into early adulthood during the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, a nationally representative sample beginning in 1995.

The team found that over half of young men and 39 percent of young women who had a father with a history of incarceration reported using marijuana, compared to 38 and 28 percent of young men and women whose fathers never went to jail.

This unfortunate group also used marijuana more frequently and continued using it longer into adulthood.

 

 

October 26, 2010 - Posted by | Public Health | , , , , ,

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