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HBSC Canada: Neighbourhood crime and adolescent cannabis use in Canadian adolescents

Cannabis is the most commonly used drug among Canadian 15 year olds. Frequent cannabis use has been found to impact negatively on mental health, often resulting in depression and anxiety, as well as poor educational performance, and memory difficulties.

This study investigated the connection between adolescent cannabis use and neighbourhood crime, in order to determine if both activities were linked.  Researchers investigated the theory that living in a socio-economically deprived area makes cannabis more easily accessible through exposure to deviant, or criminal, individuals, and that stressful and unstable living environments caused by poor parental relations make young people more likely to use cannabis.  The 2009/10 Canadian HBSC study surveyed 26,078 14-15 year old students from 436 schools across Canada. These students were asked to rate their cannabis use, parent-child relationships and whether their friends used drugs. This data was then measured against crime statistics for the school neighbourhood in order to discover whether there was a connection between crime and cannabis use in these neighbourhoods. Additionally, the study explored individual level factors such as whether parental support of cannabis made teenagers more or less likely to use the drug, and whether having friends who used cannabis made teenagers more likely to use it. 

Results illustrated that teenagers from lower income families, with a more unstable parental relationship, and friends who use cannabis, were more likely to use the drug themselves. Although parental relations and peer drug use did not affect neighbourhood crime rates, as this developed independently of these factors. As frequent cannabis use among adolescents increased, neighbourhood crime rates also increased. Additionally, cannabis use was reportedly higher in schools located in areas with high crime rates. 

The aim of this study was to spark conversations and shape policies to tackle cannabis use in high risk areas. Researchers call for the results of this study to be considered in order to tackle neighbourhood crime more effectively and recognise that drug use support may be instrumental in reducing neighbourhood crime.  This area needs further study and researchers call for an expansion into the study of parental drug use to explore further factors that affect adolescent cannabis use.

see here for further details
contact: Mr Joe Hancock

item 2850
[23-03-2015 to 03-06-2015]


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