265313 Externalizing Problem Behaviors among High Risk Latino Youth in Boston, MA and San Salvador, El Salvador: A Cross-National Comparison

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

René Olate, PhD , College of Social Work, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
Mansoo Yu, PhD , School of Social Work, Master of Public Health Program, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO
Michael Vaughn, PhD , School of Social Work, Saint Louis University, St. Louis
Christopher Salas-Wright, MA MSW , Graduate School of Social Work, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA
There is a strong link between substance use, drug selling, and adolescent externalizing problem behaviors, including delinquency, violence, and risky sexual behavior. The relationships have been labeled the “drug-crime cycle”. Although research has begun to demonstrate these relationships in the US, scant empirical evidence exists regarding the differences and similarities between youth from Latin America and Latino youth in the US. The primary objective of this study is to estimate the relative effects of externalizing problem behavior variables and demographic variables in the prediction of alcohol and marijuana use among high risk youth and youth gang members (ages 13-24) in Metropolitan Boston (MA) and San Salvador (El Salvador). Data were collected from the first wave (2009) of an ongoing longitudinal cross-national study of predominantly Latino youth (N=511) organizations. Multiple logistic regression analyses were conducted to assess the effects on marijuana and alcohol consumption. Descriptive results indicate that youth in San Salvador have a significantly higher percentage of lifetime binge drinking than in Boston. Non-significant differences were observed in lifetime marijuana use; however, youth gang members in Boston have a significantly higher percentage of lifetime marijuana use. Results from logistic regressions indicate that, for youth in Boston, gang involvement, violent delinquency, legal problems, and unprotected sex positively predicted marijuana use and binge drinking. For youth in San Salvador, violent delinquency positively predicted marijuana use; and being male, having legal problems, violent delinquency, and unprotected sex positively predicted lifetime binge drinking. Implications for public health interventions for high risk youth are suggested.

Learning Areas:
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Diversity and culture
Other professions or practice related to public health
Public health or related education
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1) Provide comparative evidence about risk factors from high risk Latino youth and youth gang members in Boston and San Salvador. 2) Discuss premises of the “drugs-crime cycle” regarding violent delinquency and substance use among Latino youth in Boston and San Salvador. 3) Suggest social work interventions for high risk youth and youth gang members.

Keywords: Youth Violence, Adolescent Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been the principal investigator of several grants focusing on youth violence prevention, substance abuse, and mental health disorders in the U.S. and El Salvador.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.