Poor Students in High-Performing Public Charter Schools Less Likely To Display Risky Behaviors: Study


Low-income minority adolescents enrolled in California's high-performing public charter high schools are less likely to engage in risky health behaviors, according to a new study by the University of California - Los Angeles.

Researchers said that these adolescents also scored better on Math and English tests as compared to their peers from other schools.

Previous studies have highlighted the link between health and K-12 education. But, the new study is the first to examine the impact of quality education on high school students' risky health behaviors.

"These students' higher cognitive skills may lead them to better health literacy and decision-making. They may be exposed to less negative peer pressure, and the school environment may promote the resilience that steers them away from these risky behaviors," Dr. Mitchell Wong, the study's lead investigator and a professor of medicine in the division of general internal medicine and health services research, said in a statement.

"In addition, in a better academic environment students spent more time studying, leaving them less time to engage in risky behaviors."

For the study, researchers categorised "Risky behavior" as any use of tobacco, alcohol and marijuana within the past 30 days.

While "very risky behavior" was defined as Binge drinking (five or more drinks on one occasion), alcohol use in school, use of any drug other than marijuana, carrying a weapon to school in the prior 30 days, gang membership in the prior 12 months, current pregnancy, multiple sex partners, sex without condoms or use of any other contraceptives, and sex while under the influence of drugs or alcohol in the prior three months.

The researchers compared test scores of two groups of high school students from low-income neighborhoods in Los Angeles - 521 students who gained admission to high-performing public charter schools and 409 did not. The students were also surveyed about their health behaviors.

The researchers found that 36 percent of students from the charter school engaged in any "very risky behaviors" when compared to 42 percent of those who did not attend charter schools.

The researchers conclude that public charter high schools in low-income neighborhoods can cause beneficial health effects and bridge the growing academic achievement gap between wealthy and poor students.

The finding is published in the journal Paediatrics.                      

© 2024 University Herald, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.
Join the Discussion
Real Time Analytics