Why girls go wild

Why girls go wild

Dan Schulman

THOUGH TEENAGE BOYS have a reputation for risk-taking behavior including drinking and using drugs, they can’t claim their behavior is in their nature. New findings reported in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines suggest, however, that some teen girls may have an inborn alibi for their misdeeds.

Judy L. Silberg, assistant professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, analyzed data from a series of interviews conducted over a period of several years with 1,071 sets of girl-boy twins aged 12 to 17 and their families. In adolescent girls, they discovered that early signs of troublesome conduct were linked to future experimentation with drugs, alcohol and cigarettes. Remaining test subjects showed either fewer instances of substance use or use that seemed to stem from environmental or social pressures. Silberg concluded that genes linked to early conduct problems in teen girls might also influence impulses to drink, use drugs and/or smoke. The study of twins who share a similar genetic makeup enabled the researchers to isolate genetic and environmental factors.

Boys may be boys, but when it comes to substance use, the study found that teen males don’t simply answer an innate call of the wild. Rather, researchers say, the impulse for boys to take risks is often a product of peer pressure and family dysfunction.

COPYRIGHT 2003 Sussex Publishers, Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group