Monday, October 25, 2010

Jailed parents raise children's drug risk

The prison population of the U.S. has grown from 250,000 in the mid-1970s to about 2.25 million today and it is now estimated that one in eight youngsters in the U.S.  has a father who has done time. Children of fathers who have been in prison are known to be at a greater risk of developing mental-health problems, becoming prisoners themselves, dropping out of high school and being poor and a new study suggests - perhaps hardly surprisingly - that they are at a greater risk of developing drug problems too. Michael E. Roettger, formerly of Bowling Green State University in Ohio and now at the University of Colorado in Boulder looked at data from 150,000 young men and women followed from adolescence into early adulthood as part of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. Half of the young men and 39% of the young women whose fathers had been in jail reported using cannabis compared to 38% and 28% respectively of young people whose fathers had not been imprisoned. Those whose fathers had served time also used the drug more frequently and longer into adulthood. One out of every four young men whose fathers had been in prison had used harder drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamine - double the rate of other youngsters. While only 4% of white children have a parent who has been in jail one in four African-American children do so.

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