Recent research shows that children who are mistreated at home or who live in poverty are more likely to start smoking at an early age. The risk of smoking is also high among children whose parents are involved in some drug usage. As these neglected or abused kids are not supervised by their parents so they have easy access to tobacco or cigarette-like products. Children use these products to eliminate anxiety and trauma-related symptoms.
The study results explain that if the children are physically abused at homes particularly in their teen or toddler age then they are at greater risk of adopting the odds such as experiments with cigarettes that will lead them to the heavy smoking habit.
The study observed the children who were physically abused or neglected by their parents because they belong to the environment that increases the likelihood of maltreatment.
Susan Yoon who is an assistant professor of social work at Ohio State University said that researchers wanted to investigate the effects of different maltreatment among children which compels them to smoke. She said that it’s not the maltreatment but also the timing of misbehavior or any abuse that has an impact on smoking. The study is published in the journal Substance Use and Misuse.
Yoon further added that cigarette smoking among adolescents is a very critical social issue and is a major public health concern. During the adolescent age, the brain is not completely developed and cigarette smoking in adult childhood damages the development of the brain. The one who starts smoking during his early childhood would continue to smoke in their adulthood and it ultimately led to serious health problems later in life.
The researcher analyzes the data from Longitudinal Studies of Child Abuse and Neglect which is a consortium of different studies across several areas of the United States. It targets the children who were maltreated or at the risk of maltreatment. The sample size of the study was 903 that includes adolescents aged between 12, 16 and 18.
The statistical analysis of the study showed that the risk of cigarette smoking among the children who experience physical abuse in their early childhood was 2.3 times more as compared to stable children of the same age group. Physical abuse is the most dangerous mistreatment and the risk of cigarette smoking becomes 3.7 times more among the adolescent who experienced physical abuse.
Adolescents who experience negligence from their parents during childhood were 1.89 times more at the risk of becoming part of increasing cigarette use groups as compared to stable and low use groups. Lack of appropriate supervision and failure to meet the basic needs of life i.e. from food and clothes to medicine and education are the risk factors of negligence.
Researchers also analyze the substantial effects of emotional abuse and sexual abuse on cigarette smoking, but it is not associated with an increased risk of cigarette use among the kids.
Yoon said that different patterns of cigarette smoking are predicted by different types of maltreatments and timing is the main factor that plays a great role in this regard. These outcomes are influenced by the maltreatments among the children in their early childhood hood as this very sensitive age for the mental growth of kids.
The best way to prevent the early age of smoking is to stop the physical abuse and neglect among teenage children. The risk of maltreatment is much higher before the age of 12.
She said that if the interventions are not planned or implemented at appropriate time then the rate of cigarette smoking among kids is continuing to increase and reach the dangerous level where it becomes difficult to stop the process of smoking among the individuals later in life. The need is to target the children who at high risk of maltreatment or any physical abuse to halt the usage of cigarettes.