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Jobs Linked with Poor Behavior in Fifth Graders

Among fifth graders, substance use and juvenile delinquency associated with having a job

THURSDAY, Feb. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Fifth graders who work are more likely to engage in various forms of substance use or delinquencies compared with their non-working peers, according to study findings released online Feb. 24 in advance of publication in the April issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Rajeev Ramchand, Ph.D., of the RAND Corporation in Arlington, Va., and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional survey between 2004 and 2006 of 5,147 fifth graders in Birmingham, Ala., Houston and Los Angeles. Surveys were used to ascertain the level of employment among the children (typically yard work, babysitting or cleaning), as well as incidence of substance use and delinquency.

Approximately one-fifth (21 percent) of fifth-grade respondents reported having a job, and most worked under five hours weekly. Boys were more likely to report working compared with girls. Children reporting having a job were significantly more likely than those not having a job to have used tobacco in the previous 30 days (OR, 2.2), alcohol (OR, 1.7) or marijuana (OR, 3.1), the investigators found. Children with a job were also more likely to have ever been in a fight (OR, 1.5) or to have ever run away from home (OR, 1.8), the researchers report.

"Because there may be benefits associated with work, clinicians should not necessarily advise parents or young people not to work," the authors write. "However, the findings should encourage clinicians to pay close attention to the role of working in their young patients' lives."

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