The Normative Environment for Substance Use Among American Indian Students and White Students Attending Schools On or Near Reservations

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American Indian and White students who attended the same schools located on or near reservations were surveyed to determine the comparative normative environment for substance use. Descriptive norms increased and student injunctive norms decreased across grade in school. Female students reported higher levels of descriptive norms compared to male students. For marijuana use, a substantial decrease in student injunctive norms occurred between grades 8 and 10. Adult injunctive norms were perceived by female students to be higher than those perceived by male students, particularly among American Indian females. Somewhat surprisingly, 8th grade White female students reported high descriptive norms for inhalant use compared to 8th grade American Indian students. Overall, however, higher descriptive norms and lower injunctive norms among American Indian youth suggested that their risk for substance use is higher compared to White students because of the normative environment created by peers, family, and other adults.

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