Researchers at Brown Medical School studied over 20,000 adolescents to look for clues as to which teens would experiment with smoking, and which would progress to occasional and then regular smokers. The results of the fascinating study were published in a special August 2002 issue of the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.
Having two or more friends that smoke, and not feeling connected at school were each dramatic risk factors. School connectedness was measured by asking about teens’ feelings about the appearance of the school, their friends, and the teachers.
As parents, we can’t choose our children’s friends nor can we make them feel connected at school, but we can go a long way toward making it easy for them to spend time with peers that bring out the best in them. And we can go a long way toward supporting activities that can build connections at school. These are both important leverage points for keeping our kids healthy through the teen years.