Linking Life Skills and Norms With Adolescent Substance Use and Delinquency in South Africa


  • This study was supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse award numbers R01 DA017491 (Smith), T32 DA017629 (Greenberg), and F31 DA028155 (Lai). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute on Drug Abuse or the National Institutes of Health.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Mary H. Lai, Department of Human Development and Family Studies, The Pennsylvania State University, 113 South Henderson, University Park, PA 16802. E-mail:


We examined factors targeted in two popular prevention approaches with adolescent drug use and delinquency in South Africa. We hypothesized adolescent life skills to be inversely related and perceived norms to be directly related to later drug use and delinquency. Multiple regression and a relative weights approach were conducted for each outcome using a sample of 714 South African adolescents aged 15–19 years (= 15.8 years, 57% female adolescents). Perceived norms predicted gateway drug use. Conflict resolution skills (inversely) and perceived peer acceptability (directly) predicted harder drug use and delinquency. The “culture of violence” within some South African schools may make conflict resolution skills more salient for preventing harder drug use and delinquency.