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Background: Parental support (PS) and parental monitoring (PM) are known protective factors against adolescent substance use (SU). However, little is known about whether PS and PM may affect SU outcomes differently by gender and age. This study examined the relationship between PS and PM and adolescent SU, specifically alcohol and tobacco use, stratified by gender and age group.

Methods: Middle and high school students (n = 2351, 48.5% Female) completed surveys of self-reported SU, perceived PS and PM, and socioeconomic background. Age group was defined dichotomously as grade 7–8 Middle school and grade 9–10 High school students. PS and PM were each measured using previously validated tools. SU was measured by lifetime and past 30 days cigarette/alcohol use. One-way ANOVA and binary logistic regression models were completed. Odds ratios and means were reported.

Results: PS and PM were significantly and negatively related to all outcome variables regardless of gender and age group. Mean differences in PS and PM were insignificant between age groups. Between genders, PM scores were significantly higher for girls (14.05) compared to boys (13.48) (p < 0.01). Odds Ratios of all four SU types (for alcohol and tobacco use) increased with higher age group, with ORs ranging from 1.45–2.61 (p < .05).

Conclusions: PS and PM were protective against SU for all participants, consistent with previous literature. Girls reported greater parental monitoring than boys, irrespective of age-group. While girls experienced higher levels of monitoring, they did not report lower SU than boys. This suggests that monitoring girls more closely than boys appears unnecessary in preventing adolescent SU. Finally, PS was a more significant factor in preventing SU for older adolescents (high school aged group) than for younger adolescents, irrespective of gender suggesting that PS may be more impactful and important as adolescents age. As children mature, particularly from middle school to high school, PS may play a larger role in preventing SU for older adolescents compared to younger ones.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.