to middle school or junior high school, increased concern about peer acceptance (Steinberg, 1999), and increased demand for autonomy (Eccles, Midgley, et al., 1993).
Major environmental risk factors that are especially important in early adolescence include family poverty and family conflict, as well as inadequate parental monitoring and deviant peer group formation. A key behavioral risk factor is aggressive social behavior, which contributes to social rejection and deviant peer group formation (Patterson, DeBaryshe, and Ramsey, 1989). In addition, young people who use cigarettes and alcohol are more likely to use other drugs (Kandel, Johnson, et al., 1999). More generally, psychological and behavioral problems tend to be interrelated (Biglan, Brennan, et al., 2004).
Boxes 6-4 and 6-5 describe two parenting interventions using the parenting skills techniques discussed above that have been developed and evaluated in multiple randomized controlled trials. They are adapted to address the unique issues, such as potential substance use and parental monitoring, that arise as young people enter early adolescence. The Strengthening Families Program (SFP) and adaptations of it (see Box 6-4) is a universal intervention that has demonstrated positive results on a range of outcomes. The Adolescent Transitions Program (see Box 6-5) has evolved over a series of trials to an intervention with universal, selective, and indicated components designed for delivery in schools. It has demonstrated long-term effects on substance use and delinquency among both white and minority youth.
The quality of parents’ communication about risky sexual behaviors and positive attitudes about responsible sexual behavior can influence their adolescent children (Yang, Stanton, et al., 2007; Dilorio, Pluha, and Belcher, 2003). Without these conversations, adolescents overestimate the level of parental approval of their sexual behaviors, and mothers underestimate the amount of sexual activity of their adolescents (Jaccard, Dittus, and Gordon, 1998). Such communication appears to depend on warm and supportive parent–child relationships (Donenberg, Bryant, et al., 2003). Conversely, family conflict and negative affect are associated with behavioral problems (Szapocznik and Kurtines, 1993), such as earlier sexual debut (Paikoff, 1995) and generally risky sexual behavior (Biglan, Metzler, et al., 1990). Parental monitoring and an authoritative parenting style are consistently associated with less risky sexual behavior, fewer sexual partners, less pregnancy, and increased condom use among youth in the family (see Biglan, Metzler, et al., 1990; Li, Feigelman, and Stanton, 2000; Bell, Bhana, et al., 2008).