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Two Ph.D. Students Earn Research Awards

Two Ph.D. Students from the College of Criminal Justice earned top awards from the Southwest Criminal Justice Association.

Two Ph.D. students from the College of Criminal Justice earned awards from the Southwestern Association of Criminal Justice (SWACJ) in a graduate student paper competition.

Robin D. Jackson was presented first place and Youngoh Jo took second place in the competition for research papers. Jackson’s paper was “Social bonds and nonmedical prescription drug use by adolescents,” and Jo’s was "The stability of self-control: Hirschi's redefined self-control."

“The two prizes awarded to Sam Houston State University graduate students not only reflects well on our two students, but the faculty that have mentored them and our College as a whole,” said Dr. Will Oliver.

The Southwest Association of Criminal Justice is a regional affiliate of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, one of two major professional organizations in the field. Its membership includes institutions and agencies from across the country. The organizations recently held its annual meeting in College Station, Texas.

Jackson submitted her paper on nonmedical prescription drug use by adolescents and social bonds. The paper found that recent trends indicate an increase in the use of prescription drugs for nonmedical purposes by adolescents. Previous research indicates that prescription drug abuse along with marijuana use is greater than the prevalence of other illicit drug use. Additionally, some studies indicate that a correlation exists between illicit drug use and nonmedical use of prescription drugs by adolescents.

Despite these findings, few studies exploring the use of prescription drugs for nonmedical purposes exist in criminal justice literature. An even smaller amount examines the relationship between criminological theory and the nonmedical use of prescription drugs by adolescents. The current study utilizes the 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health to examine the relationship between all four social bonds and nonmedical prescription drug use among adolescents.

Findings from the study provide partial support for social bonding theory and additional support for demographic trends related to nonmedical prescription drug use. Adolescents and young adults with strong attachments to parents and school as well as high involvement with school related activities are less likely to report nonmedical prescription drug use. Females are more likely than males to report nonmedical use of prescription drugs, and a correlation exist between alcohol consumption and nonmedical prescription drug use by adolescents, yet no correlation exists for other illicit drug use.

Jackson said the she initially did the paper for a class last spring. “I was not expecting to win,” said Jackson. “ I am proud to represent Sam Houston State University.”

Jo examined the stability of self-control in his research paper. According to his abstract, Gottfredson and Hirschi’s self-control theory has been rigorously tested and received consistent support for strong low self-control-deviance relationship, while one of the fundamental premises of the theory, stability of self-control, has not been fully investigated.

Using Hirschi’s (2004) redefinition of self-control, this study examines the stability thesis. A recent longitudinal national data of South Korean youth with ages ranging from 14 to 18 is used for this purpose. Correlation analysis reveals moderate relationships among self-controls for five years. Gender differences in self-control are significant and consistent, while the differences in self-control between offender and non-offender vary across different time points. Finally, the results of growth mixture modeling show that group differences in self-control change rather than being stable. Overall, the study provides weak support for self-control stability. The implications of these findings are discussed. Jo thanked Dr. Todd Armstrong for inspiring his paper.

“I thank Dr. Todd Armstrong for providing a great class where I learned a lot about criminological theory and got the idea of this paper,” Jo said.

Jo said this was his first time attending SWACJ and he found the presentations “thoughtful, interesting and professionally useful.”

“The relatively smaller group of attendees than national conferences not only facilitated robust discussions during the program, but also provided a relaxed atmosphere conducive to networking during the luncheon and breaks,” Jo said. “Especially, I was amazed by so many active Sam graduates in academia, which made me proud of studying at Sam.“

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