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Social Capital and the Onset of Health-Risk Behaviors among Korean Youths

Yoonsun Han and Andrew Grogan-Kaylor

Despite extensive formal legislation designed to protect youths from engaging in health-risk behaviors, underage substance use and extreme forms of aggression are prevalent in Korea. This study examined the ways social capital—an informal relational resource—may contrib- ute to delayed onset of health-risk behaviors among Korean adolescents. Analyses were conducted using five consecutive waves of the Korean Youth Panel Survey (N = 3,449), a nationally representative sample of adolescents in Korea. Discrete-time survival analysis cap- tured the dynamic set of individuals who differentially experienced initiation of health-risk behaviors. Family-level social capital was significantly associated with delayed onset of smok- ing, drinking, aggression, and rule-breaking behaviors. Relational resources in the com- munity were also proven important, but particularly for behaviors that often occur in public or communal areas. Successful prevention of adolescent health-risk behaviors may require facilitation of informal mechanisms of social control provided by family and community relationships.

KEY WORDS: adolescent risk behaviors; international family issues; parent–child relationships; social capital

Social Work Research Volume 39, Number 4 December 2015

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