• How do school disciplinary approaches and student perceptions of school support relate to youth cannabis use? A cross-sectional analysis of Year 7 (2017-2018) of the COMPASS study

      Magier, Megan; Applied Health Sciences Program
      Background: In the school year immediately following cannabis legalization in Canada, the objectives of this thesis were: (1) to examine the disciplinary approaches being used in secondary schools for students who violate school substance use policies, and associations with cannabis use among youth; and (2) to investigate youth perceptions of school support for the prevention and cessation of substance use, if perceptions vary by school disciplinary approaches, and whether they are associated student cannabis use. Methods: School- and student-level survey data from Year 7 (2018/2019) of the COMPASS study were used, including 74,501 grade 9-12 students attending 136 secondary schools. A framework for classifying schools into disciplinary approach styles was established based on school-reported response measures used for student first-offence violations of the school cannabis policies. Multilevel logistic regression models examined associations between school disciplinary approach styles, student perceptions of school support for the prevention/cessation of student substance use, and student cannabis use. Results: Despite all schools reporting always/sometimes using a progressive discipline approach, punitive consequences (suspension, alert police) remain prevalent as first-offence options, with fewer schools indicating supportive responses (counselling; cessation/educational programs). Most schools were classified as using Authoritarian and Authoritative approaches, followed by Neglectful and Permissive/Supportive styles. No disciplinary approach styles were associated with cannabis use. Students attending schools classified as Permissive/Supportive (high supportive; low punitive) had a higher likelihood of perceiving their school as supportive for substance use prevention/cessation than their peers at Authoritarian (high punitive; low supportive) schools. Students who perceived their school as “supportive” were less likely to report current cannabis use than their peers who perceived their school as unsupportive. Conclusions: This study is the first to classify school discipline approach styles using school-level measures. Unlike previous studies using classifications based on student perceptions, results do not support direct associations between school disciplinary styles and student cannabis use. Greater use of supportive approaches (e.g., counselling referrals, educational programs) over punitive consequences may promote student perceptions of school supportiveness for the cessation/prevention of substance use. Further research is needed to explore additional factors promoting student perceptions of school supportiveness, given associations with cannabis use.