Characteristics of eighth-grade students who initiate self-care in elementary and junior high school

Pediatrics. 1990 Sep;86(3):448-54.


The purpose of this paper is to examine whether children who care for themselves for longer periods of time are at increased risk of poor grades, truancy, anger, family conflict, stress, risk-taking, and peer influences (in addition to the increased risk of substance use previously reported). Demographic characteristics of eighth-grade students who initiate self-care in junior high school are compared with those initiating self-care in elementary school. Further, increased risks for those initiating self-care in elementary school are examined. Over two thirds of the respondents (67.8%) cared for themselves after school without adult supervision at some time during the week; 23.5% for 1 to 4 hours per week, 15.7% for 5 to 10 hours per week, and 28.6% for 11 or more hours per week. Of those in self-care, 48.5% initiated self-care during elementary school and 51.5% during junior high school. Students who were in the highest category of self-care (greater than or equal to 11 hours per week) vs those in self-care zero hours per week were 1.5 to 2 times as likely to score high on risk-taking, anger, family conflict, and stress, to be more likely to see their friends as their major source of influence, and to attend more parties. The self-reports of academic grades did not differ. The grade of initiation of self-care (elementary vs junior high school) conferred additional risk for drinking alcohol (odds ratio = 1.4), risk-taking tendencies (odds ratio = 1.5), and attending parties (odds ratio = 1.6).

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior
  • California / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Los Angeles / epidemiology
  • Psychology, Social
  • Risk Factors
  • Self Care* / statistics & numerical data
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors
  • Urban Population / statistics & numerical data