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International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology


Drug use among refugee populations is a concerning trend in many urban American cities. For instance, Omaha, Nebraska is home to an estimated 7,000 refugees from Myanmar, with at least 75% of those being Karen refugees. The purpose of this paper is to explore methamphetamine use among Karen adolescents in Omaha and to examine whether Karen youth bring their drug use habits with them from refugee camps or if they learn about drugs from their American peers. Two focus groups of Karen youth and two focus groups of Karen parents were conducted to examine methamphetamine use among this population. Findings suggest, like most youth, the Karen children were reluctant to disclose their own use of drugs, but they did see the use of methamphetamine and other drugs in their schools. It appears drug use among the Karen youth is acquired during the “Americanization” of these children in Omaha schools.

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