New studies confirm increase in marijuana use, changing attitudes
The latest surveys are confirming what many drug prevention 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 and their children is lacking. The Partnership for a Drug-Free America (PDFA) released its 1996 Partnership Attitude Tracking Study in March. Just as the Monitoring the Future survey showed earlier this year, the Partnership study revealed that drug use among children is on the “Did you learn a lot about Percent of 9-12 year olds responding rise. However, the Partnership study 79% surveyed children as 72% 80 young as 9 years old. The 1995 PDFA 70 study indicated that 60 53% 230,000 children aged 9 to 12 tried 44% 50 marijuana for the 40 first time that year. The PDFA figures for 30 1996 indicate that 20 this number has risen by 2%, a number the 10 Partnership says is a 0 statistically signifiSchool TV shows, news, movies cant change. The attitudes of Source: 1996 Partnership Attitude Tracking Study these 4th, 5th, and 6th graders are also changing, according to this study. Fewer 9 to 12 year olds believe that “people on drugs act stupid” (71% in 1995, down to 65% in 1996). These children are less likely to say they don’t want to hang around people using drugs and they are reporting that more of their friends are using drugs. Sixty-seven percent of the 9- to 12-year-old children say parents are a reliable source of information on the dangers of drugs. However, parents seem unwilling to discuss drugs when their children are that young. Only 29% of the parents of 4th, 5th, and 6th graders reported discussing drugs with their children on a regular basis. But 42% of parents report having regular talks about drugs with their teenage children. A survey conducted by the Washington Post and ABC News, also released in March, reveals even more about the communithe dangers of drugs from:” cation gap between parents and their children. In this national survey of 618 parents 1993 of teenagers and 1996 527 youths aged 12 to 17, nine out of ten parents said they 50% have had a serious 43% 40% 42% talk with their teenagers about illegal drugs. However, fewer than half of their children said that this conversation occurred.
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And even though both groups, parents and teens, agree that illegal drugs are a major problem for teenagers nationally, they don’t see eye-to-eye when asked about the local situation. Two-thirds of teens said drug abuse was either a minor problem or not a problem at all in their local schools; whereas 52% of parents described the local school situation as a crisis or a serious problem.


8th and 9th graders talk about violence in schools
n 20% of eighth graders and 50% of ninth graders witnessed or experienced some type of violence in school in 1995. n 51% of both grades report that there are gangs in their school. n 37% of these students are afraid of attacks at school. n 29% fear being attacked when traveling to and from school.
Department of Education’s 1995 Schoolbased Drug Prevention Programs study


ThE ChALLENgE v7, n2

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has released a research guide on preventing drug use. The new guide, Preventing Drug Use Among Children and Adolescents: A Research-Based Guide, is organized around 14 prevention principles. The principles address all forms of drug abuse, including alcohol and tobacco as well as illegal drugs. They also call for prevention efforts that strengthen schools’ anti-drug norms, teach skills for resisting drugs when offered, enhance protective factors, and address risk factors for drug abuse. Presented in a question and answer format, the guide discusses important issues regarding prevention, including the origins and

pathways of drug abuse and how these concepts are used to develop prevention intervention strategies. The guide also answers questions commonly asked by community leaders and prevention practitioners to help them design and implement programs at the local level.

New researchbased guide now available to help prevent teen drug use
of the general population), or indicated (designed for people already experimenting with drugs or for people who exhibit riskrelated behaviors). Copies of the prevention guide are available free of charge from the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information (NCADI) at 1-800-729-6686.

The guide provides ten examples of programs that have been effective in preventing youth drug use. These programs, which have been studied scientifically, are categorized as universal (reaching the general population), selective (targeting groups at risk or subsets

First national youth gang survey released
The National Youth Gang Center (NYGC) reports in this new survey that there are youth gangs in all fifty states and most large cities. California, Texas, Illinois, Colorado, and Arizona reported the highest number of gangs, and the center has learned that gangs are appearing in new localities, especially in smaller cities and rural counties. members—the largest such numbers ever recorded. Law enforcement agencies in 63% of the cities and 43% of the counties reported having a special unit to deal with the youth gangs. However, 90% of the agencies reporting a gang problem also noted that the problem has either stayed the same or has worsened, and only 10% remarked that n Most youth do not join a gang until their their local gang situation teenage years. has improved.

Highlights of the survey were released in April and show that there are more n Prevalence rates of delinquent and violent The National Youth behavior for female gang members exceed youth gangs and youth gang Gang Center was estabthe rates for non-gang males. members than anyone has lished in 1995 when the estimated. Furthermore, the n Gang problems in the U.S. have escalated Office of Juvenile Justice numbers may be even highand Delinquency Prevenrapidly since the 1960s. About half of the er than the survey indicates, tion entered into a cooperacities with gang problems today report the since only a random samtive agreement with the emergence of gangs only since 1985. pling of law enforcement Institute for IntergovernUniversity of Colorado Center for the Study agencies was queried. Over mental Research. NYGC’s and Prevention of Violence 3,400 police and sheriff primary task is to conduct departments responded to the survey. Of the 2,000 periodic national surveys to obtain comprehensive data agencies reporting youth gang activity in 1995, over on youth gangs. “Highlights of the 1995 National half serve areas with fewer than 25,000 residents. Youth Gang Survey” is available free from the Juvenile Justice Clearinghouse (1-800-638-8736). The respondents reported the existence of over 23,000 youth gangs with a total of almost 650,000

ThE ChALLENgE v7, n2


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