Children of military families at higher risk of substance abuse, violence, carrying weapons
TUESDAY, Aug. 18, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Military-connected youth are at increased risk for adverse outcomes during wartime, indicating poorer socioemotional adjustment than their nonmilitary peers, according to a study published online Aug. 17 in JAMA Pediatrics.
Kathrine Sullivan, M.S.W., from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, and colleagues analyzed a comprehensive administrative data set (2013 California Healthy Kids Survey) to determine whether military-connected youth are at higher risk for adverse socioemotional outcomes during wartime. Participants included 54,679 military-connected and 634,034 nonmilitary-connected secondary school students from public civilian schools.
The researchers found that military-connected youth had greater odds of substance use, experience of physical violence and nonphysical harassment, and weapon carrying. Specifically, military-connected youth had 73 percent greater odds of recent other drug use (e.g., cocaine and lysergic acid diethylamide; odds ratio, 1.73) and twice the odds of bringing a gun to school (odds ratio, 2.20), compared with nonmilitary-connected peers. Military-connected children also had significantly higher odds of being threatened with a weapon or being in a fight, compared to their civilian counterparts (odds ratios, 1.87 and 1.67, respectively).
“These findings suggest a need to identify and intervene with military-connected adolescents and reflect a larger concern regarding the well-being of military families during wartime,” the authors write.
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