Wen-Hsin Liang, Li-Hsuan Huang
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National Taiwan Normal University
MotivationDrugs are addictive, and their use and attendant negative consequences and externalities impose a heavy burden on society. According to the Annual Report on Drug Abuse and Inspection Statistics (Taiwan Food and Drug Administration, 2018), juvenile drug use accounted for 59.3% of schedule III drug-related crimes in 2017. Because curiosity is one of the most important factors leading to drug use, school or university campuses are key sites for young people's drug addiction prevention. The literature on drug-related crime is mostly based on qualitative research, and this is especially so for the research conducted in Taiwan. This study analyzed data from the Statistics of Police Work (National Police Agency, Ministry of the Interior, 2002-2018) by using quantitativemethods, with the aim of determining the driving forces of drug-related crime by teenagers and young people in Taiwan. We focused on the effect of household structure and entertainment venues nearby, with an aim of determining policy suggestions for drug abuse prevention in schools of various levels. The two research questions of this study were as follows: Research question 1: Would the pattern of drug-related crime in counties in Taiwan be related to the youth population structure? Research question 2: Would household structure and entertainment venues be crucial factors on the drug-related crime rate for teenagers and young people in Taiwan? What other factors would be significant?Literature ReviewThe reasons for drug-related crimes are many, ranging from an individual's early experiences in childhood and adolescence to their living environment, social pressure, and economic status. The drug-related crime literature, hence, comes from both natural and social sciences, thus revealing its interdisciplinary character. The theory of lower-class culture conflict, for instance, proposes that crime is a natural response of individuals from a lower-class culture to the environment (Miller, 1958). The general strain theory of crime and delinquency states that the causes of crime include psychological factors, such as stress and anxiety, which means that middle- or upper-class people may also commit crimes (Agnew, 1992). Crime may also reflect people's choices, however. Becker (1968) proposed that when the expected reward from crime is higher than the pay received in legal employment (particularly when unemployed), the probability of choosing to commit a crime increases. Even employed persons may engage in illegal activities, as long as the utility obtained by crime is higher than that from employment (Grogger, 1998; Raphael & Winter-Ebmer, 2001). Moreover, a larger police force, representing a higher probability of being arrested, may lower criminal inclinations (Levitt, 1997; Marvell & Moody, 1996). Relevant research has suggested that the living environments and family backgrounds of young drug offenders tend to be similar: they typically have weak relationships with their families, have peers who are drug users, and have low academic achievement (Robertson et al., 2003; Shu et al., 2015). Youth drug-related crime may be related to weak social bonds (Lin et al., 2001), echoing social control theory (Hirschi, 1969). Crime may also be caused by the attitudes and values of people, with these being transferred from generation to generation (Miller, 1958). The accessibility of drugs, for instance, at large-scale music festivals and entertainment venues, and opportunities to commit crimes and other antisocial behaviors may be critical influential factors among the young (Chin, 2018; Day et al., 2018; Tossmann et al., 2001).Research MethodsFixed-effects models for panel data were employed for empirical analysis, and panel data estimation bias was corrected. In addition, the causal relationship between the drug-related crime rate and unemployment was considered (Lin, 2008; Lin & Liu, 2006; Raphael & Winter-Ebmer, 2001). The Durbin-Wu-Hausman test was used to test for overidentification, and if an endogenous problem was identified, the two-stage least squares method with clustered standard errors was used to obtain consistent estimates.Results‧ The schedule II drug-related crime rate of young people aged 12-23 exhibited a rapid increase. Among those aged 18-23, with other factors remaining constant, our data indicated an average increase of 98.68 people per year in a county committing a crime.‧ The schedules I and III drug-related crime rates were positively related to the proportion of the population aged 12-17 and 18-23, respectively.‧ Based on the coefficient estimates, for every 1% increase in the proportion of single-parent families, the schedules II and III drug-related crime rates of 12-17 and 18-23-year-old individuals increased by 39.25 (113.03), and 23.81 (25.92) people, respectively.‧ Grandparent family positively correlated with the schedule III drug-related crime rate of 18-23-year-old individuals, with a large estimated coefficient (130.95), compared with otherwise similar young people.‧ The estimated coefficient of attendance at music festivals for the schedule II crime rate for those aged 12-17 was 10.34. A significant relationship between the number of entertainment venues and the number of schedule III drug offenses of people aged 18-23 was observed.‧ The drug-related crime rate of youths aged 12-17 slightly increased with household income, especially for the schedule III drug-related crime rate, which includes drugs that are not easily recognized and can be easily consumed, such as ketamine and FM2.‧ An increase in the proportion of the educated population in counties by 1% can significantly reduce the schedule III drug-related crime rate of young people aged 18-23 by 45.99 people per year.‧ Every 1% increase in the number of antinarcotics personnel was found to reduce the schedule III drug-related crime rate of young people aged 12-17 and 18-23 by 366.52 and 505.05 people per year, respectively.DiscussionThe empirical results indicate that the drug-related crime rate of a county is associated with the proportion of the population aged 12-23 and that the drug-related crime rate varies across the four schedules of drugs. With other factors remaining constant, the more youths aged 12-17 (aged 18-23) are in the population, the higher the schedule I (schedule II, and III) drug-related crime rates are. The causes of drug-related crime for adolescents seem to differ from those for adults. Living in a single-parent family is a significant explanatory variable for the drug-related crime rate of young people aged 12-23, especially for crimes relating to schedule II and III drugs among young people aged 18-23. Grandparent family is significantly related to the schedule III drug-related crime rate of people aged 18-23, and the impact of grandparent family depends on a young person's age and the drug schedule. The presence of entertainment venues nearby is an important factor for drug-related crime only for people aged 18-23, with a small effect. The percentage of educated people in a county and the number of antinarcotics police officers have a negative relationship with the drug-related crime rate of people aged 18-23. Household disposable income is also a factor for drug-related crime among those aged 12-17.Policy SuggestionsWe propose several policy suggestions based on the findings:‧ Revising policies for drug abuse prevention according to age and making this the top priority for schools of all levels.‧ Giving more attention to young people from single-parent families in senior high schools and colleges as well as in primary schools and junior high schools.‧ Paying special attention to the situation of students raised by grandparents and to those at higher risk of dropping out of school, especially in senior high schools and colleges.‧ Enhancing drug policing in entertainment venues near senior high schools and colleges.‧ Continuing to monitor the physical and mental health of children from families with higher socioeconomic status.