Adolescent Children of African-American Crack-Using Mothers: Gender Differences in Youth Risk and Maternal Child Communications
Lam, W. K., Ellerson, R. M., Francis, S. A., & Wechsberg, W. M. (2005, December). Adolescent Children of African-American Crack-Using Mothers: Gender Differences in Youth Risk and Maternal Child Communications. Presented at American Public Health Association Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, PA.
African-American women who abuse drugs face challenges that increase not only their own HIV risk, but also their children's risk. Children who live with drug-abusing parents are more likely than other children to experience problem behaviors, including substance use and early sexual activity. Despite the strong influence of family on youth risk, few studies have examined caregiving contexts created by maternal drug users or gender differences in their children's risk. Data are presented from two samples: a) African-American mothers (n=635) who abused crack but were not receiving treatment and participated in an HIV prevention study, and b) 12-17 year old children and their African-American mothers who have used crack (n=203 dyads). On average, youth are 14.1 years old; 59% are females. Women are 35.8 years old, and have 2.5 dependent children. In the past month, mothers reported using crack an average 11.5 days and 23% had traded sex. Logistic regression found that mothers separated from their children were significantly more likely than mothers living with their children to be older, to report childhood physical abuse, to trade sex more frequently, to be homeless, and to have no health insurance. Over one-third of youth had used cigarettes, alcohol or marijuana; 29% used substances in the past month. Overall, 31% are sexually experienced, with more boys reporting having had sex. Given the need to educate women and girls about how to protect themselves, the family context may be a prime vehicle through which to communicate HIV prevention skills and information.