Purpose: Data were collected from a convenience sample of 550 detained adolescents (ages 14-18 years) to explore the association between adolescents' perception of teacher connectedness and a range of health risk behaviors, such as gang membership, use of in alcohol, drugs, and tobacco, and engagement in sexual risk behaviors prior to detainment. Methods: Participants answered survey questions using audio-computer assisted self-interviewing procedures that assessed demographic, pro-social, problem, and drug and sexual risk behaviors. Results: Multiple logistic regression analyses controlling for demographic and socioeconomic status, truancy, number of days in the detention center, and family factors indicated that adolescents who reported low teacher connectedness, relative to their peers reporting high teacher connectedness, were twice as likely to use marijuana and amphetamines, and twice as likely to be sexually active, have sex while high on alcohol or drugs, have a partner who was high on alcohol or other drugs during sex, and have multiple sexual partners. Conclusions: The association between teacher connectedness and adolescents' health risk behaviors prior to detainment suggests that school-based interventions that enhance the school environment, particularly teachers' skills and training to enhance and maximize the effectiveness of their student interactions, may be one strategy for reducing health risk behaviors and their associated adverse health outcomes among youth at high risk.
- Drug use
- Sexual risks
- Teacher connectedness
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Psychiatry and Mental health