This episode focuses on the status of homeschooled adolescents and their engagement in risky behaviors.
We are featuring a journal article this week titled Homeschooled adolescents in the United States. The author noted how public schools have broadened their mission beyond academics to also address risk behaviors such as substance use, delinquency, and socialization problems. However, adolescents who are homeschooled do not receive such interventions. The author looked to see if homeschoolers were more at-risk due to a lack of exposure to public school interventions. She looked at 1000 homeschool students using data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health and compared them to over a 100,000 public school students.
Among homeschoolers, the author defined two groups based on the level of religious affiliation of the homeschooler. Religious homeschoolers were found to have many strengths. They were the least likely to engage in delinquency or substance use when compared to less religious homeschoolers and public school students. The author speculates that the religious focus of these students serves as a buffer against these types of problems. However, the religious homeschooled students did self-report being twice as likely to report their current grade level to be two or more years behind that which would be expected.
Less religious homeschoolers did not fare as well. They had a similar likelihood in using substances as public school students and their parents were more likely to have a lax attitude towards drug use. In addition, less religious homeschoolers were less likely to engage in any extracurricular activities which could lead to social isolation.
The takeaway is that homeschool students risk for substance use, delinquency, and social isolation can vary. If homeschool students have a higher level of religious affiliation then it can serve as a protective factor and make them less at-risk than less religious homeschoolers and public school students. Less religious homeschoolers have considerably more risk and efforts to provide access to extracurricular activities and interventions should be made.
Green-Hennessy, S. (2014). Homeschooled adolescents in the United States: Developmental outcomes. Journal of Adolescence, 37, 441-449.