Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Dr. Albert D. Farrell


Substance use is a significant problem among middle school students in the United States. Research indicates that the early use of substances increases the likelihood of negative outcomes including long-term use and abuse. Both parenting and peer variables exert strong influences on children's decisions to use or abstain from substances. As children age, peers begin to exert a stronger influence, but parenting practices can significantly reduce peers' harmful influences. In this study, three waves of data (collected at the end of 6th grade, and the beginning and end of 7th grade) from a large multi-site study were used to examine the role of peer deviance as a mediator of the influence of parental monitoring on substance use among an ethnically diverse sample of over 2,500 middle school students. Structural equation modeling was used to examine the longitudinal interrelations among parental monitoring, peer deviance, and substance use among middle school students, and to investigate potential group differences by gender and family structure. The hypotheses that peer deviance and substance use would influence one another over time were upheld. The two variables were interrelated such that peer deviance produced increases in substance use over time, but so too did substance use produce peer deviance over time. The prospective relation between substance use and peer deviance was stronger than the converse relation, suggesting that substance using peers seek one another out. Parental monitoring was associated with decreases in substance use over time, but its influence was small. Parental monitoring was more strongly associated with decreases in peer deviance. However, parental monitoring's effect on substance use was not mediated by peer deviance over these 3 waves in that parental monitoring at Wave 1 did not predict substance use 1 year later. Contrary to hypothesis, substance use was not associated with changes in parental monitoring over time, although peer deviance was associated with less monitoring. In general, parental monitoring was more closely linked to peer deviance than it was to substance use. This study found no convincing evidence to suggest group differences in the overall pattern of findings according to gender or family structure.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

June 2008

Included in

Psychology Commons