Examining substance abuse in truant youths and their caregivers: Implications for truancy intervention

Christopher W. Flaherty, Richard D. Sutphen, Gretchen E. Ely

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Truancy is associated with an array of negative social consequences, including poor school performance, delinquency, and dropout. Numerous individual, family, school, and community risk factors associated with truancy are also associated with adolescent substance abuse. However, little is known about substance use patterns among court-adjudicated chronically truant youths, and outcome studies of truancy interventions reveal a lack of focus on substance abuse. The current study used urine drug-screening results for truant youths and caregivers to explore specific drug use patterns. The study also examined the relationship between caregiver and youth drug test results. Findings indicate that illicit substance use in this sample of youths and adults is substantially higher than that in general population estimates. Also, youth substance use was associated with caregiver use. These findings suggest that truancy interventions that target risk factors common to truancy and substance use may be indicated for a substantial portion of truant youths.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-211
Number of pages11
JournalChildren and Schools
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2012


  • dropout
  • school social work
  • truancy
  • youth substance abuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Education


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