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Losing The War On Drugs - Parents Can Be The Cure


 Editor    Sep 25 : 20:26
 None    News Stories

American schools and parents are failing miserably when it comes to steering teens clear of alcohol, drugs and cigarettes, a sobering new survey shows.

cheating5.gifAmerican schools and parents are failing miserably when it comes to steering teens clear of alcohol, drugs and cigarettes, a sobering new survey shows. And the really bad news is that it's getting worse. The number of students attending drug-infested schools has skyrocketed - from 44% in 2002 to 62% this year for high schoolers and from 19% to 28% for middle schoolers, according to the 10th annual teen survey, unveiled yesterday by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse.

That doesn't bode well for keeping kids free of drugs and alcohol, the survey found, because 12- to 17-year-olds who attend schools where drugs are used, kept or sold, are three times as likely to try marijuana and twice as likely to drink alcohol than teens at drug-free schools.

"Availability is the mother of use," said Joseph Califano Jr., chief of the Columbia University-based center. For the first time, researchers also linked R-rated movies to teens' illicit behavior. Those who watched R-rated flicks three or more times a month were seven times more likely to smoke cigarettes, six times more likely to smoke marijuana and five times more likely to drink alcohol than teens who didn't watch those movies, the survey found.

The good news was that it doesn't take an act of Congress to crack down on risky behavior. Teens who felt their parents would flip out if they found out they were doing drugs and teens who felt drugs were morally wrong were several times less likely to try drugs, the survey found. "The message to parents is clear. Parents cannot outsource their responsibility to schools or to law enforcement," said Califano, a former U.S. secretary of Health, Education and Welfare.

A majority of teens said whether it was legal for them to smoke or drink had no bearing on their decision to do so. "It's a hell of a message to parents," Califano said. "This problem is really going to be solved in the living room and the dining room and across the kitchen table, not in the courtroom or even in the classroom."

The full survey is available online at www.casacolumbia.org.

BY PAUL H.B. SHIN
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER


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