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Research Proposal Essay

Introduction
Adolescent substance abuse in Virginia is below the national average according to a study for the Department of Adolescent Health with the Department of Health & Human Services (2011) teens in grades 9-12 disclosed usage of alcohol at a rate of 18 percent compared to 20 percent of the national average for having drank more than a few sips before they were 13 years old. For Marijuana the rate was 32 percent of high school aged adolescents have used marijuana in their lifetime and that is also below the national average of 40 percent. Inhalant usage was 10 percent with a national average of 11 percent, cocaine was listed at 3 percent directly coinciding with the national rate and lastly nonmedical use of pain relievers was 7 percent higher than the national percentage of 6 percent (Department of Health & Human Services Office of Adolescent Health, 2011). Literature Review

It is no secret that an individual’s development begins within the environment he or she develops. However, questions begin to arise when one wonders how particular settings or environmental factors affect an individual’s development and to which degree these factors impact one’s life. Further investigation may be necessary when the stage of development of the individual being studied is considered. Adolescence is a unique and critical stage in the development of every human being and organizations such as the Adolescent Substance Abuse Knowledge Base (ASK) suggest that substance use and abuse is at least an issue, if not a major problem facing many adolescents. According to ASK the most commonly used substances for adolescents age 12 to 17 are tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana. The ASK website supports that claim with the following statistics: the national average age of first alcohol use is 15 years old, nationally 17.3% of youths have used tobacco in the past month, and the national average annual incidence rate for marijuana use among youths is 6.3% (http://www.adolescent-substance-abuse.com/state-stats.html).

A commonly held belief is that parents or family factors can often predict the development of substance use and abuse by adolescents, one website even goes so far as to label parents the “Anti-Drug” (http://www.theantidrug.com). So what leads adolescents to develop a habit of using substances such as tobacco, alcohol, marijuana and others? Do parent and family factors play a role in behavior of their adolescent sons and daughters? The purpose of this research proposal is to review the existing literature on parental and family factors and the impact these factors have on predicting the development of teen substance use and abuse. Most research has been done in the area of parental communication and involvement in an adolescent’s life seeking to determine how parenting can influence an adolescent’s substance use or abuse in a positive or negative manner. For example, Farrell and Kung (2000) utilized a number of models to represent the relations between parenting practices, family structure, peer pressure, and drug use in a sample of 443 seventh grade students. It is important to note that this study was conducted in an urban area, in which many of the subjects were classified as being from low-income families, also a high percentage of those researched were of African American descent.

Over half of the adolescents surveyed lived within an intact family or a family with a single parent and extended family members living in the same household. An interesting finding of this study was that peer pressure was more strongly related to drug use than was parenting. That being said, parenting practices were also found to temper the relationship between peer pressure and substance use. This means that parenting can serve as a defensive factor in that children who receive sufficient parenting are better prepared to resist pressures from their peers to use substances than those who do not receive adequate parenting. Ennett, Bauman, Foshee, Pemberton, and Hicks (2001) explored communication between parents and adolescents regarding alcohol and tobacco use through a national study of 537 adolescent and parent pairs. The researchers investigated what was discussed between parent and child and how that communication impacted the adolescent’s behavior. This data was gathered via phone contact on two separate occasions, with the second contact taking place one year after the initial contact.

There were a number of interesting findings from this study, one of which was that parents who smoked tended to converse more regularly about antismoking rules than did parents who didn’t smoke; in comparison, parents who drank spoke less regularly about rules regarding alcohol use than those that didn’t drink. The study actually produced evidence that parental conversations with adolescents about rules and consequences for alcohol and tobacco use may have caused adolescents who had already tried smoking or drinking to increase their use. Finally, the study also showed that while communication had little in the way of positive effects on adolescent tobacco and alcohol use parental modeling was a much better predictor of an adolescent’s behavior. For example, parental smoking often led to adolescent tobacco and alcohol use, and parental drinking forecasted the rise of alcohol use in many instances (Ennett, Bauman, Foshee, Pemberton, & Hicks, 2001).

Another study on the parent-adolescent relationship, this by Wood, Read, Mitchell, and Brand (2004), used mail surveys to contact 578 late-adolescent subjects in the summer before entering college to research parental and peer influences on their alcohol use. The study revealed that men drank nearly twice as much as women, and to negotiate for this known gender discrepancy the authors of the study considered gender in the equations used to calculate their final results. As was the case with similar previous studies, this study revealed that peer influences such as offerings of alcohol and perceived norms were associated with unconstructive consequences as related to alcohol use. The study further supported prior research by confirming that parental behaviors, attitudes, and values correlate directly with late-adolescent alcohol use and problems, and that perceived parental disapproval was associated with lower levels of alcohol use.

As the previously discussed research suggests, parental involvement in an adolescent’s life can significantly impact an adolescent’s attitudes and behaviors towards substance use and abuse. However, not all adolescents are fortunate enough to be brought up in environments where parental influences occupy a normal presence within their lives. It is important to consider the impacts of insufficient parenting or nontraditional parenting arrangements on adolescent substance use. Research Question

Will the rate of teen substance abuse decrease if there is more family involvement within teen adolescence? Hypothesis
I hypothesize that the rate of teen substance abuse will decrease once there is parental involvement in an adolescent’s years of development Research Design
Department of Adolescent Health with the Department of Health & Human Services studied 361 individuals ages 14 to 17, all subjects came from two-parent and single parent families and were enlisted from within the Hampton Roads area in which the study was to be conducted or from clinical treatment programs in the area. The purpose of this study was to create parental involvement measurements applicable to a child’s adolescent lifetime, to differentiate adolescents who were for all practical purposes neglected by their parents from others, and to examine the effects of parental involvement on adolescent behaviors involving drugs and alcohol. Through the use of cross-sectional studies, researchers analysis data from questionnaires. Sampling Strategies

The sampling method best used for this research would be non-probability sampling because it opens the opportunity to specify the participants to be researched. This sampling method allows the researcher to create a handpicked research group of participants. Data Collection Method

Questionnaire
A random sample of 361, 14-17 year olds, stratified by sex and postcode sector, was drawn from the school registration database of Hampton Roads. Ethics committee approval was granted but required that names and addresses be passed to the researchers only after potential respondents had consented. Via their parents, all were sent an information sheet, questionnaire (to establish smoking status), consent form to be countersigned by a guardian, and a freepost return envelope. Results

Through the use and analysis of a questionnaire the researchers were able to determine that 75 of the adolescents studied were in situations with
low-parent involvement, which the researchers designated as the Neglect group. Those subjects not in the Neglect group were labeled the “Reference” group. The most substantial observed difference between the Neglect and Reference groups indicated that individuals in the Neglect group, those with less parental involvement in their lives, possessed a weaker ability to resist social pressure to substance abuse. Discussion

These numbers show a rising usage of even younger teens beginning to indulge in substances. According to ask the average age of substance experimentation is 14. This study examined the effects of parents talking to children about substances versus those parents who do not. There were a number of interesting findings from this study, one of which was that parents who smoked tended to converse more regularly about antismoking rules than did parents who didn’t smoke; in comparison, parents who drank spoke less regularly about rules regarding alcohol use than those that didn’t drink. The study actually produced evidence that parental conversations with adolescents about rules and consequences for alcohol and tobacco use may have caused adolescents who had already tried smoking or drinking to increase their use. Finally, the study also showed that while communication had little in the way of positive effects on adolescent tobacco and alcohol use parental modeling was a much better predictor of an adolescent’s behavior. For example, parental smoking often led to adolescent tobacco and parental drinking forecasted the rise of alcohol use in many instances. The purpose of this study was to create parental involvement measurements applicable to a child’s adolescent lifetime, to differentiate adolescents who were for all practical purposes neglected by their parents from others, and to examine the effects of parental involvement on adolescent behaviors involving drugs and alcohol

Limitation
The limitation that would effect this proposal would be the percent of honesty and integrity of the participants. Some participants may feel reluctant to tell the truth either due to fear of parents finding out substance use, or the fear of being labeled. This lack of honesty has a major effect on the data collected from the study. Also using non-probability sampling will result in limited generalizability of the findings. Implications

Practice Implications: When I comes to training social workers on how to treat teens suffering from substance abuse, they have a greater sense of which direction to demonstrate practice. Also allows social workers to understand the history as well at the trigger to initial substance use. Social workers are able to address adolescent clients from different system levels once they are aware of factors that lead teens to abuse substances. Profession: As professionals, these findings help to guide practice in ways to better provide services to teens who suffer from substance abuse and to create preventative methods to keep teens from abusing even in the absence of parental guidance. Target Population: These findings give teens an understanding of how peer and parental influences play a major factor in their curiosity in substances Professional Development: As a professional, this research has given me a sense of direction when it comes to treating and dealing with teens who may suffer from substance abuse. Also gives me a better understanding of the history of teen substance abuse and how if occurs. Recommendations for Future Research

In future research, study recommend to offer aid, support, and services for those teens who are founded to be abusing or using substances. If challenges are met early, there is a greater chance of transforming these habits. The goal is to strengthen the community through service delivery.

References

Clark, D., Thatcher, D., & Maisto, S. (2004). Adolescent neglect and alcohol use disorders in two-parent families. Child Maltreatment, 9(4), 357-370. Ennett, S., Bauman, K., Foshee, V., Pemberton, M., & Hicks, K. (2001). Parent-child communication about adolescent tobacco and alcohol use: what do parents say and does it affect youth behavior? Journal of Marriage and Family, 63(1), 48-62. Farrell, A., & Kung, E. (2000). The role of parents and peers in early adolescent substance use: an examination of mediating and moderating effects. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 9(4), 509-528.
Highlights of Study by State on Youth Drug Use. (2007). Retrieved January 13, 2011, from http://www.adolescent-substance-abuse.com/state-stats.html Wood, M., Read, J., Mitchell, R., & Brand, N. (2004). Do parents still matter? Parent and peer influences on alcohol involvement among recent high school graduates. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 18(1), 19-30.


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