The present study examined the relationship between a set of individual and contextual variables and high-risk alcohol use among young offenders placed on community orders in New South Wales, Australia. Participants (n = 777) were compared on a set of factors known to be strong predictors of high-risk alcohol use among adolescents. The authors assessed the strength of the relationship between gender, age, ethnicity, geographical region of residence, school attendance, father absence, history of childhood trauma, and the presence of severe conduct disorder on weekly levels of alcohol use. Living in rural locations, not currently attending school, being female, and not having been raised with a biological father present were associated with significantly increased odds of alcohol abuse. Father absence was a more important risk factor for rural young offenders, but school dropout was associated with more hazardous drinking among young offenders in urban areas. Accordingly, the authors suggest family-focused intervention programs for young offenders living in rural areas and school-based programs for vulnerable young people living in urban areas, although programs should consider including both factors for both groups if feasible and warranted.
- Australian youth
- contextual and individual risk factors
- high-risk alcohol use
- predictors of adolescent alcohol use
- rural-urban differences in alcohol use