Joint Studies 

Joint Studies 
Posted by CN Staff on January 17, 2005 at 19:57:43 PT
By Alice Wignall 
Source: Guardian Unlimited
Cannabis use among young people is now so widespread that many would consider a period of teenage experimentation as normal and not a cause of undue worry. But are they right? "It's clear that some sort of substance use - be it cigarettes, alcohol or drugs like cannabis - is widespread among teenagers," says John Pitts, Vauxhall professor of socio-legal studies at the University of Luton's Vauxhall centre for the study of crime. "It's also clear that although some of their behaviour might be a bit risky at times, the vast majority get through it fine and settle into normal patterns of adult legal and illegal drug use that we're all familiar with. But for other youngsters, their level of drug use is normalised around a much higher level - to the extent that it might compromise their life choices."
Why and how this happens is the subject of new research being conducted by the Vauxhall centre into the effect of cannabis use on young people. "Our broad objective is to look at the impact of cannabis use on decision making at key moments in young lives," says Pitts.The study covers familiar ground for the centre. "Our primary focus is young people, social exclusion and crime," says Pitts. "Although the word 'crime' is in our name, we work outside that brief quite a lot and take a holistic view of it: issues of social exclusion and law breaking are complex and interwoven, after all."The expectation is that this will prove to be the case in this new research. "Our focus will be on young people whose drug use is quite prolific. Indicators for that, like early family difficulties, are often similar to indicators for social exclusion and crime. We want to know how drug use and the lifestyle that goes with it affect how they negotiate the normal milestones of adolescence: school work; making and sustaining relationships; and their capacity to undertake routine interactions with authority figures. It's not about the physiological effects, but the existential." One aim of the research will be to establish at which points intervention or advice would be most helpful to teenagers. To achieve this, interviews will be carried out with individuals and groups, and with other key figures such as teachers and youth workers. "That's where qualitative data is important," says Pitts. "You can ask them to look at their lives and tell us what has worked for them, or what they think would work. They can help us to identify points of access." It will also take in a variety of different locations, and - contrary to the popular image of urban deprivation giving rise to drug abuse - not all of them will be in cities. "In previous research, we've found that the most socially excluded young people are the children of poor families in rural areas. There's a lot that is depressing about the lives of socially excluded urban kids, but I would say the situation in the country is more desperate."The research will be funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, which has provided a grant of 120,000 as part of a broader project on cannabis. "The feeling is that there's lots of rhetoric around cannabis but the research is patchy," says Pitts. "Also, the current debate about cannabis is informed by how the situation was several years ago. It doesn't take into account new types of cannabis that are appearing, which have a different effect."Naturally, untangling the issues that surround drug use, social exclusion and crime is not an easy task. "These things are all interconnected," agrees Pitts. "Often the story you have to tell at the end of a piece of research like this is very complex. But I think that's all right. There are no simple solutions, but they aren't simple problems."Note: New research will focus on the links between social exclusion, crime and cannabis use. Alice Wignall reports.Source: Guardian Unlimited, The (UK)Author: Alice Wignall Published: Tuesday, January 18, 2005Copyright: 2005 Guardian Newspapers LimitedContact: letters Articles & Web Site:Drugs Uncovered: Observer Special Cool on Cannabis The Confusion Over Cannabis MPs Vote To Downgrade Cannabis
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Comment #1 posted by E_Johnson on January 17, 2005 at 20:16:04 PT
Will they study the parents?
This TV shrink Dr. Phil tells parents, if you have a problem with a teenager, you don't send him off to get fixed, and assume you're just fine yourself.He kept a woman from sending her insolent daughter to boot camp. He asked a few key questions of the woman that revealed the mother to be a hard hearted bully herself. The woman had enough of a brain to realize she'd just busted herself on national TV and she agreed to counseling and the teenage girl burst out in tears because finally someone took her seriously and didn't treat her like a disease to be cured in some clinic.
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