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Youth Issues Subject of Recent SSRC Studies
Studies to provide evaluation and research support in Mono and Ventura counties' drive to reduce underage and binge drinking.

November 10, 2005
By Laurie McLaughlin

The kids in Northern California’s Mono County have a euphemism for attending outdoor-drinking parties: they tell their parents they’re “going camping.” Fifty or 60 kids will drive out into the forests that blanket that region and “build a huge bonfire, and many of them drink to the point of stupefaction and simply drop where they stand,” says Gregory Robinson, director of CSUF’s Social Science Research Center.

Two contracts totaling $125,948 to provide evaluation and research support in Mono and Ventura counties were recently awarded to the SSRC. The two counties are working under State Incentive Grants (SIG) from the California State Department of Drugs and Alcohol to reduce underage and binge drinking among persons 15 to 25 years of age.

“In Ventura County, we learned that an overwhelming majority of 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds take their last drink before arrest in a private residence,” says Robinson, who analyzed survey data provided by DUI arrestees attending a court-mandated drinking driver program.

“These monies are not for educational programs, individual counseling or efforts that seek to sway decision-making about whether to drink or not. We identify the high-risk settings for binge drinking in the target population,” says Robinson. “SIG funds are to alter these high-risk settings in which binge drinking occurs.”

Armed with this data, counties may implement ordinances restricting house parties, bonfires and “problem alcohol outlets,” such as bars that serve minors — or in one instance, as Robinson mentions, serve 84-ounce Long Island iced teas. These environmental prevention strategies also may include social-host ordinances that hold a homeowner liable for the cost of police services and perhaps levy a fine for sponsoring an event in which underage drinking occurred.

Among other projects of the SSRC is the Safe and Bright Futures Evaluation, a $35,000 contract awarded by the Superior Court of California, Orange County.
Under the contract, SSRC staff studied children’s exposure to family violence and developed interventions to “mitigate the effects once such violence has occurred,” says Robinson. The evaluation is part of the Safe and Bright Futures for Children Initiative, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Public Health and Science, which encourages communities to create a coordinated system to serve children exposed to domestic violence.

“As our just-completed report indicates, children in households in which domestic violence occurs tend to be regarded as incidental by law enforcement personnel that are appropriately oriented to stopping the dispute between the parents,” says the researcher. “But those children experience long-term effects from that kind of exposure, especially when it’s chronic, and until recently that has been ignored. Safe and Bright Futures is addressing that gap.”

Another project is the Vocational Education Student Placement Survey, in which Robinson will be looking at the efficacy of high school career, technical education and adult ROP (Regional Occupational Programs) courses. “We are ascertaining the students’ current employment status, documenting the number of students who went on to higher education or were able to obtain higher-skill or higher-wage jobs as a result of their ROP training,” Robinson says of the $14,944 Santa Ana Unified School District grant. “This data is of interest to school district administrators.”

The SSRC, under a $69,600 award from Nightlight Christian Adoptions, is developing and implementing a public awareness campaign to educate couples of the option to adopt frozen embryos resulting from in-vitro fertilization procedures. In an SSRC telephone survey, 10 percent of respondents expressed a personal preference for the destruction of frozen embryos not utilized by a couple, more than 31 percent preferred donating unused embryos for research, and 57 percent preferred placing unused frozen embryos with families that want to have children, according to Robinson.

The SSRC’s goal is to serve the public with quality research services and provide Cal State Fullerton students with applied research experience in data collection and analysis. In addition to its off-campus clients, the center also conducts research and surveys for the university, including a recent poll of alumni for the Career Center.

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