Abstract: Child Maltreatment Types, Family and Peer Influences on Adolescent Substance Use: Racial Differences (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

All live presentations are in Eastern time zone.

27P Child Maltreatment Types, Family and Peer Influences on Adolescent Substance Use: Racial Differences

Tuesday, January 19, 2021
* noted as presenting author
Dalhee Yoon, PhD, Assistant Professor, Binghamton University-State University of New York, Binghamton, NY
Julia Kobulsky, PhD, Assistant Professor, Temple University, PA
Miyoung Yoon, PhD, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor, MI
Jiho Park, MA, Doctoral Candidate, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH
Background and Purpose:

Previous research has documented that child maltreatment and family/peer substance use are highly related to adolescent substance use. However, the role of types of child maltreatment (i.e., physical, sexual, and emotional abuse) as well as the effect of family members’ and peer groups’ substance use on adolescent substance use have not yet been investigated within the context of child maltreatment. In addition, few studies have examined the potential racial differences. Therefore, this study examines the influences of child maltreatment types and family/peer substance use on adolescent substance use, and whether these relationships vary by race.


This study used data from the Longitudinal Studies of Child Abuse and Neglect (LONGSCAN), which tracked the antecedents and consequences of child maltreatment in the US. The sample includes 664 adolescents (51.2% female; 56.3% Black, 28.3% White, 5.4 Hispanic, 10.0% Other). Child Protective Services reports (CPS) and youth self-reports were used to measure child maltreatment types (age: 0-12). Family members’ and peers’ substance use were assessed using a modified version of the Youth Risk Behavior and Monitoring the Future Survey. Adolescent substance use was assessed using self-reported alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drugs including marijuana, cocaine, LSD etc. Given the low frequencies of each substance use, the data were summed and dichotomized. Adolescents’ gender, race, income, caregivers’ education, internalizing and externalizing symptoms were used as covariates. To eliminate potential clustering effects (i.e., five study sites), the Generalized Estimating Equations approach was employed.


Adolescents who experienced sexual abuse, but not other types of maltreatment, had higher odds of using substances (OR =2.01, p = .039). Adolescents whose family members use substances had 1.45 times higher odds of substance use (OR = 1.45, p = .003). Adolescents whose peers use substances had 1.49 times higher odds of substance use (OR = 1.49, p < .001). The interaction between race and peers’ substance use was significant for adolescent substance use (OR = 3.27, p = .001); White youth with high peers’ substance use had more substance use, compared to non-White youth with high peers’ substance use. None of the other interaction terms (i.e., race X each type of abuse as well as race X family substance use) were statistically significant.

Conclusion and Implications:

This study contributes to expanding our knowledge of how different types of child maltreatment are associated with adolescent substance use, as well as how peer groups’ substance use is associated with adolescent substance use by race. Adolescents who have been sexually abused, whose parents and peers use substances are at heightened risk for substance use. Additionally, White youth who are affiliated with substance-using peers are more vulnerable to their substance use, as compared to non-White youth. These findings suggest a need for diverse intervention strategies, such as early assessment of child maltreatment experiences and parents’ substance use, as well as continued monitoring of peer groups’ substance use by taking account of racial differences.