Students from lower-income neighborhoods who attended one of five high-performing Los Angeles County high schools were less likely to abuse marijuana than those who weren’t offered admission, UCLA researchers reported in JAMA Pediatrics. The correlation between attending one of the schools and marijuana abuse was particularly consistent for boys. By 11th grade, boys who attended one of the schools were 50 percent less likely to abuse marijuana than their counterparts who weren’t offered admission.
Although prior research has documented a link between a supportive school environment and health behaviors, the UCLA study is the first to use a random lottery to analyze the effects of students transitioning to a high-performing high school and to present detailed data on school environments and social networks.
“Investing in schools offers a tool for improving teen health,” said Rebecca Dudovitz, the study's first author and former CTSI KL2 scholar. She is an assistant professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and a pediatrician at Mattel's Children's Hospital. The paper's senior author is Mitchell Wong, a professor at the Geffen School of Medicine and leader of the CTSI KL2 program.
The study in JAMA Pediatrics