Society for Social Work and Research

Sixteenth Annual Conference Research That Makes A Difference: Advancing Practice and Shaping Public Policy
11-15 January 2012 I Grand Hyatt Washington I Washington, DC

15901 The Role of Family- and Community-Level Social Capital On the Onset of Risky Health-Related Behaviors Among South Korean Youth

Friday, January 13, 2012: 8:00 AM
Burnham (Grand Hyatt Washington)
* noted as presenting author
Yoonsun Han, MPP, MSW, PhD Student, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor, MI
Background: Social capital is a mechanism of social control that governs individual actions and is rendered in informal family and community structures. Parental monitoring practices are a unique social capital resource characterized as power-neutral efforts to distill normative social standards through supervision and communication, and have been recognized as an effective strategy of risk prevention. Similarly, collective socialization processes, which represent a common desire to live in a safe environment based on mutual trust that enable residents to informally achieve public order, can explain how collective resources prevent youth from engaging in risky behavior. This study investigates the theoretical underpinnings of social capital in a country embedded with collectivist culture, South Korea, to provide further insight on how family and community structures may prevent youth's involvement in health related-risky behaviors.

Methods: Data was from the Korea Youth Panel Study (N=3,449), a national representative, longitudinal study of adolescents (14-15 year-olds) followed for six consecutive years (2003-2008). The dependent variable was experience of health-related risky behavior including substance use, sexual activity, and violence/aggression. The independent variable, parental monitoring, was operationalized by an average of seven questions measuring the level of parent-youth communication and parental knowledge of youth's activities. Community monitoring was measured by six questions representing a sense of active collective engagement. Other variables (individual, family, and regional levels) were used as statistical controls. Discrete-time survival analysis was used to capture the dynamic set of individuals who are differently exposed to risky behaviors throughout different time intervals.

Results: Over 90% of youth had engaged in at least one risky behavior during the six years of study. Age of initiation of first risky activity peaked at 14 and 15 years of age (about 50 percent). About 49.5% of the person-years had experienced alcohol consumption and 14.6% experienced smoking, making these the two most common risky activities. Results of the discrete-time survival analyses suggested that parent- and community-level monitoring each significantly (p<0.001) reduced the risk of engaging in maladaptive behaviors, when estimated in two separate models. When measures were included in a single model, greater levels of parental and community monitoring were associated with lower probability of involvement in risky behaviors.

Conclusions and Implications: Understanding the processes through which social capital in the family and community contribute to socializing youth can provide greater insight on strategies to prevent adolescences from engaging in maladaptive behaviors. This study presented evidence for the idea that the proximal effect of parental monitoring plays a large role in delaying engagement in risky behaviors among youth, and therefore, provided additional support for the importance of family-based prevention and intervention practices. Furthermore, the significant role of community-level monitoring in preventing youth's risk-taking behaviors in a society that is traditionally known for its collectivist culture can provide stronger support for the importance of community efforts across multiple social structures. These findings provided support for the importance of social capital development when implementing community-based interventions.

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