This study examined the family structure; process of family life, communication patterns and patterns of smoking, alcohol and illicit drug use among primary children in a deprived district in Hong Kong.
A two-stage random sample of primary five and six school children aged 10-12 years were recruited from 5 schools in two deprived districts in Hong Kong. Children from the schools were completed structured questionnaires in the classroom. Their family life (structure, parenting patterns and process), communication patterns and practices of health risk behaviors (smoking, alcohol and illicit drug use).
The prevalence of experimentation with smoking, alcohol use and illicit drug use among primary 5 -6 children were 1.1%, 28% and 0.1% among the 796 children who have completed the questionnaire. Most of the participated children were males (53.8%), living with fathers (85.3%), mothers (93.5%) or siblings (66.8%). The study shows that near half of the fathers (47.3%) and the mothers (61%) were perceived had communicated with their children about consequences of smoking, alcohol or drug use. Children who perceived “authoritarian” or “neglecting” parents reported more experimentation with smoking, alcohol or illicit drug use.
The results of the present study suggest that prevalence of smoking and illicit drug experimentation is congruent between children from the deprived districts and the general Hong Kong population. However, our data revealed a significant higher ever use of alcohol among children from the two districts than the general population. Perceptions of young children on family life which are importance for their experimentation with health risk behaviors.
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