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Friday, December 14, 2012

Family Social Capital vs. School Social Capital

Every parent knows that at some point their children will experiment with alcohol and/or drugs during their formative years. In some cases, children, as young as ten years of age, will get a hold of alcohol or marijuana from a friend or older sibling.

Parents should have an open dialogue with their children in order to educate them about the dangers of using. A new study has found that parental guidance is more important than the school environment in preventing or limiting their child’s use of alcohol or marijuana.

More than 10,000 students, parents, teachers, and school administrators took part in the study. The main focus points were what’s called “family social capital” (bonds between parents and children) and “school social capital” (a school’s ability to provide a positive environment for learning), the Science Daily reports.

Family Social Capital includes:

  • Trust
  • Open Communication
  • Active Engagement in a Child’s Life

School Social Capital includes:

  • Student Involvement in Extracurricular Activities
  • Teacher Morale
  • Teachers’ Ability to Address Student Needs
Students with high levels of family social capital and low school social capital levels were found to be less likely to have used either marijuana or alcohol, or to have used them less frequently. Students with high levels of school social capital and low family social capital were found to be more likely to have used, or to use more frequently.

“Parents play an important role in shaping the decisions their children make when it comes to alcohol and marijuana,” study co-author Dr. Toby Parcel of North Carolina State University said in a news release. “To be clear, school programs that address alcohol and marijuana use are definitely valuable, but the bonds parents form with their children are more important. Ideally, we can have both.”

The study appears in Journal of Drug Issues.
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