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The latest surveys are confirming what many drugprevention experts already know. A larger number of younger children are trying marijuana for the first time,adolescents are growing increasingly tolerant of drugs,and communication about drugs between parents andtheir children is lacking.The Partnership for a Drug-Free America (PDFA)released its 1996 Partnership Attitude Tracking Studyin March. Just as the
Monitoring the Future
surveyshowed earlier this year, the Partnership study revealedthat drug use amongchildren is on therise. However, thePartnership studysurveyed children asyoung as 9 years old.The 1995 PDFAstudy indicated that230,000 childrenaged 9 to 12 triedmarijuana for thefirst time that year.The PDFA figures for1996 indicate thatthis number has risenby 2%, a number thePartnership says is astatistically signifi-cant change.The attitudes of these 4th, 5th, and 6th graders are also changing,according to this study. Fewer 9 to 12 year olds believethat “people on drugs act stupid” (71% in 1995, downto 65% in 1996). These children are less likely to saythey don’t want to hang around people using drugsand they are reporting that more of their friends areusing drugs.Sixty-seven percent of the 9- to 12-year-old childrensay parents are a reliable source of information on thedangers of drugs. However, parents seem unwilling todiscuss drugs when their children are that young. Only29% of the parents of 4th, 5th, and 6th graders report-ed discussing drugs with their children on a regularbasis. But 42% of parents report having regular talksabout drugs with their teenage children.
A survey conducted
by the Washington Post andABC News, also released in March, reveals even moreabout the communi-cation gap betweenparents and their chil-dren. In this nationalsurvey of 618 parentsof teenagers and527 youths aged 12to 17, nine out of tenparents said theyhave had a serioustalk with theirteenagers about ille-gal drugs. However,fewer than half of their children saidthat this conversationoccurred.And even thoughboth groups, parentsand teens, agree thatillegal drugs are a major problem for teenagers nation-ally, they don’t see eye-to-eye when asked about thelocal situation. Two-thirds of teens said drug abuse waseither a minor problem or not a problem at all in theirlocal schools; whereas 52% of parents described thelocal school situation as a crisis or a serious problem.
SchoolTV shows,news, moviesTV commercialsFriends
“Did you learn a lot about the dangers of drugs from:”
Source: 1996 Partnership Attitude Tracking Study
New studies confirm increase in marijuana use, changing attitudes
20% of eighth graders and 50% of ninth graders witnessed or expe-rienced some type of violence inschool in 1995.
51% of both grades report thatthere are gangs in their school.
37% of these students are afraidof attacks at school.
29% fear being attacked whentraveling to and from school.
Department of Education’s 1995 School- based Drug Prevention Programs study
8th and 9th graders talk about violence in schools
Percent of 9-12 year olds responding