• adolescent;
  • alcohol consumption;
  • assets;
  • initiation of sexual intercourse;
  • youth development

BACKGROUND: Two risk behaviors, alcohol consumption and early initiation of sexual intercourse (ISI), can have devastating consequences for youth. The purpose of this study was to determine the association of school connectedness and school-related behaviors (eg, academic performance, skipping school, getting into trouble at school) with these 2 risk behaviors.

METHODS: The Youth Asset Survey (YAS) was administered to 1117 youth/parent pairs in their homes using Computer-Assisted Personal/Self-Interviewing (CAPI/CASI). The YAS measures 17 youth assets and risk behaviors including alcohol consumption and sexual activity.

RESULTS: The mean age of the sample was 14.3 years; 53% were female; and 70% were from 2-parent homes. Five school-related behaviors were positively associated with no ISI. Four school-related behaviors were positively associated with reporting no alcohol consumption in the past 30 days, including the School Connectedness asset (only among 12- to 13-year-olds), not skipping school (only among non-Hispanic Caucasians), staying out of trouble, and paying attention.

CONCLUSIONS: School is very much a part of the lives of youth and therefore the relationship they have with their school experience is important and may influence their involvement in risk behaviors. Feeling connected to school is a positive asset that can protect youth from such risky behaviors as sexual initiation and alcohol consumption.