The University of Washington and the University of Queensland's researchers have revealed that the sisters and brothers of a child are stronger role models than parents or friends as far as habits like smoking and drinking are concerned. The younger children in a family tend to follow the example of their older siblings in such matters.
Dr Abby Fagan of the University of Washington studied the role played by peers, siblings and parents with regard to drug abuse among teenagers. The data available from as many as 1,370 teenagers from Brisbane were made use for arriving at the conclusion. Where younger siblings are concerned, the incidence of drinking was at 36% while that of smoking was at 13%. The percentage increased in the case of youngsters whose older siblings had such habits.
The prevention efforts have to take into account the effects or example set by older siblings, according to Dr Fagan in the American Journal of Drug Issues. The alcohol and tobacco prevention programs at present pay greater attention to parent-child interaction and communication. Greater focus needs to be placed on the role that the elder siblings play in such substance abuse by youngsters. Adolescent substance use is also to a very great extent influenced by maternal depression.