Purpose: Early pubertal timing is associated with early initiation of cigarettes and alcohol; we evaluated parental monitoring and affiliation with deviant peers in a moderated, mediational model of this relationship for both genders.
Methods: We tested a prospective model explaining the process through which pubertal timing is related to early use of cigarettes and alcohol for 360 fourth and fifth graders, following them for 4 years.
Results: We found a relation between early pubertal maturation and trying cigarettes and alcohol without parents' knowledge for both boys and girls. In addition, for both genders, parental monitoring moderated the association between pubertal timing and trying alcohol, but not trying cigarettes. Affiliation with deviant peers mediated the effect of pubertal timing on both alcohol and cigarette initiation for girls only.
Conclusions: Although pathways to substance use differ by gender, both early maturing girls and boys should be regarded as high-risk populations for initiation of substances, and intervention programs may be more effective if they are targeted accordingly.