The Role of Parents in Protecting Colombian Adolescents From Delinquency and Marijuana Use

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Abstract

Objectives

To identify general and differentiating risk and protective factors from domains of culture and ecology, peer, family, and personality, related to adolescent delinquency and marijuana use, and to study the protective role of the parent-child mutual attachment in offsetting cultural and ecological risk factors, leading to less delinquency and marijuana use.

Design

Cross-sectional analyses of interview data collected in Colombia.

Participants

A total of 2837 Colombian adolescents, 12 to 17 years of age.

Setting

Adolescents were interviewed in their homes.

Main Measures

Independent variables included measures from 4 domains: culture and ecology, peer, family, and personality. The dependent variables were delinquency and marijuana use.

Results

Several risk factors, such as tolerance of deviance and sensation seeking, were similarly related to both delinquency and marijuana use, suggesting that a common cause underlies the propensity to engage in different deviant behaviors. Some risk factors were more involved in delinquency and other risk factors were more highly related to the adolescent's marijuana use. Finally, when violence is endemic and illegal drugs are readily available, a close parent-child bond was capable of mitigating these risk factors, leading to less marijuana use and delinquency.

Conclusions

The findings have implications for public health policy related to interventions in countries in which violence and drug use are prevalent. The results point to interventional procedures aimed at adolescents vulnerable to marijuana use and delinquency as well as efforts aimed at specific vulnerabilities in these areas. For example, reducing the risk factors and enhancing the protective factors for marijuana use and delinquency may result in less adolescent marijuana use and delinquency.

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