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Patterns of Referral to the Children's Hearing System for Drug and Alcohol Misuse

NCJ Number
Lesley McAra
Date Published
34 pages
This study examined patterns for referring substance-abusing youth to Scotland's children's hearing system, which aims to address the needs of youth between the ages of 8 and 16 who have committed delinquency offenses, as well as children up to the age of 16 who have care and protection needs.
Of the sample studied only 10 percent of those who had been referred to a children's hearing had been referred specifically for drug or alcohol abuse; however, an additional 3 percent were referred to a children's hearing for offenses under the Misuse of Drugs Act; and in another 11 percent of referral cases, drug and/or alcohol misuse was mentioned as a key issue in reports. Only a small percentage of the children in the study sample who reported regularly consuming alcohol or drugs had been referred to the hearings system; consequently, level of drug use was a weak predictor of a hearings referral. Substance abusers most likely to be referred to the hearings system were living in a single-parent household under social and economic disadvantages, exhibited problems behaviors at school, and had frequent contacts with the police. The children referred to the hearings system for substance abuse had only limited access to drug and/or alcohol treatment programs prior to the referral. Previous social-work interventions had focused on other problem behaviors and a breakdown in the parent/child relationship. This study drew on findings from the Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime, a longitudinal research program that is exploring pathways into and out of offending for a cohort of approximately 4,300 youth who began secondary school in Edinburgh in 1998. The study uses self-report questionnaires, semistructured interviews, children's hearings records, teacher questionnaires, police and criminal statistics, a parent survey, and a geographic information system. 20 tables and 23 references