Last Updated 04 Jan 2021

The Simultaneous Leadership in Social Science

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Understanding the scope of drug use and addiction in the world includes knowing the prevalence among various populations and researching the many health and social consequences. The United States is both the largest producer of drug research in the world and the world’s only “drug-control superpower.”

The simultaneous leadership in social science and world agenda setting is not the result of a symbiotic relationship between American research and policymaking. During adolescence, friends and peers become far more influential than before, and intimate dating relationships become primary interests (Laursen & Williams, 1997).

Along with these important developmental changes, however, come increased risks of pregnancy, sexually transmitted disease, and abuse by and toward dating partners (Leaper & Anderson, 1997).

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As well, alcohol and drug use and abuse enter the picture, which may contribute to the occurrence of the other risk behaviors (Milgram, 1993; National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, 1999). Although some of these developments are harmless, there is a growing awareness of the importance of education and prevention to increase teens' personal safety and responsibility.

Not surprisingly, prominent adolescent risk behaviors are alcohol and drug abuse, unsafe sexual behavior, and dating violence-share many of the same contributing risk factors, although to important and differing degrees.

These include problems related to the family, such as family conflict and violence, poor relationship attachment, early and persistent behavior problems, as well as peer and academic problems, such as school failure, peer rejection, and exposure to community violence. In addition to the above, teen pregnancy, early sexual intercourse, and risky sexual behaviors are associated with the early onset of puberty, truancy, and delinquency (Kilpatrick, Acierno, Saunders, Resnick, & Best, 2000).

In the absence of compensatory factors, such as education and social competence, these varied risk factors can contribute to or become risk behaviors (e.g., alcohol use is associated with teen pregnancy and violence).

Common Elements

A common family element found among teens who engage in these high-risk behaviors is the amount of time spent without proper adult involvement or supervision (Dishion, Capaldi, Spracklen, & Li, 2005).

Not surprisingly, children who grow up in caring and supportive homes are more likely to resist risky behaviors, while children who have grown up witnessing or experiencing alcohol abuse or violence in their homes, having poor family structure and insecure attachment-related experiences are more likely to be less resistant to these same risky, unhealthy behaviors.

A description of the age, gender, and ethnic identities of youth who engage in high-risk behavior is provided by the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance, which tracks data regarding many health risk behaviors for adolescents in the United States.

According to this data, black youth, for example, report significantly higher rates of sexual intercourse before age 13 than do Whites and Hipics, while White youth report the highest levels of forced sexual intercourse. Black youth also report less alcohol consumption at last sexual intercourse and higher condom use than do White and Hipic youth.

Not surprisingly, males report more alcohol use before the age of 13 than females, across all ethnic groups (YRBSS). However, these data on the prevalence of self-reported adolescent risk behaviors is descriptive only and tells little about the contextual factors contributing to such risk.

While looking closer at some of the factors that may contribute to the mentioned risk behaviors, one can see that alcohol use among teenagers remains prevalent in today's society. A national probability sample of 4,023 adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 found that 15% of the sample used alcohol, 10% used marijuana, and 2% reported hard drug use in the past year (Kilpatrick et al. 2000).

Although some alcohol consumption among adolescents is considered normative, there is a great concern for the number of teens who are exhibiting signs of alcohol abuse or dependence with 7% of the above sample meeting diagnostic criteria for alcohol, marijuana, or hard drug abuse or dependence.

Trends in alcohol use reported in the Youth Risk Behavior Survey indicate that binge drinking (five or more drinks on one occasion during the 30 days prior to the survey) has shown little variation over the past several years, ranging from 31.3% in 1991 to 33.4% in 1997 to 31.5% in 1999 (Centers for Disease Control, 2000). Binge drinking continues to be a problem among youth and needs to be targeted specifically.

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The Simultaneous Leadership in Social Science. (2016, Jul 01). Retrieved from

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