Background: Although neighbourhood factors have been proposed as determinants of adolescent behaviour, few studies document their relative etiological importance. We investigated the relationship between neighbourhood crime and cannabis use in a nationally representative sample of Canadian adolescents. Methods: Data from the 2009/10 Canadian Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) survey (n= 9134 14- and 15-year-olds) were combined with area-level data on crime and socioeconomic status of the neighbourhood surrounding the schools (n= 218). Results: Multilevel logistic regression analyses showed that after individual and contextual differences were held constant, neighbourhood crime related to cannabis use (OR 1.29, CI 1.12-1.47 per 1.0 SD increase in crime). This association was not moderated by parental support nor having cannabis-using friends. The amount of explained variance at the neighbourhood level was 19%. Conclusions: Neighbourhood crime is an important factor to consider when designing interventions aimed at reducing adolescent cannabis use. Interventional research should examine the effectiveness of community-based interventions that target adolescents through parents and peers.
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