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Mexican American and white American school dropouts' drug use, health status, and involvement in violence.
A group of Mexican American and white American school dropouts were compared with a control group and a group of academically at-risk students in three locations in the Southwest. The sample group consisted of school dropouts and comparison subjects in grades 6 through 12. Both comparison groups were matched with the dropouts by sex, ethnicity, and school grade. At risk students also were matched by age and grade point average. Dropout subjects were found to have the highest rates of alcohol and drug use, followed by at risk student subjects. The relative rates of use were about the same for nearly all drugs, with the largest differences found for drinking to intoxication and use of marijuana, uppers, and cocaine. Among the dropouts, 75 percent of Mexican American males and 90 percent of white American males had tried marijuana. More than a third of the dropouts had tried cocaine. One-third of the Mexican American males and more than half of the females in both the Mexican American and the white American group had tried uppers. Females, especially dropouts, had higher rates of tobacco smoking than males. The rates of cigarette smoking among dropouts were significantly greater than among the control group only for males. Health problems of parents were not related to dropping out of school for any of the ethnic or sex groups. However, dropouts were more likely to have had serious illness within the preceding year than members of the control group. Many dropouts live in a violent and dangerous world. As an example, about one in five dropouts had held a gun on someone in a confrontation, and 20 percent had cut someone with a knife. Nearly half had been badly beaten. Females were rarely perpetrators of crimes or misdemeanors, but were often victims. Forty-two percent of the white American female dropouts had been either raped or sexually assaulted. Mexican American females were found less likely to be victims of violence, which perhaps reflects cultural values of marianisma and machismo, involving protectiveness toward females.
European Continental Ancestry Group
Pub Type(s)Comparative Study
Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.