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11 million high school students (80%) and 5 million middle school students (44%) attend drug-infested schools, meaning that they have personally witnessed illegal drug use, illegal drug dealing, illegal drug possession, students drunk and/or students high on the grounds of their school according to the National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse XII: Teens and Parents, the 12th annual back-to-school survey conducted by CASAColumbia (CASA) at Columbia University.
For the first time, this year CASA sought to survey in depth the drug situation in America’s schools. The survey revealed that at least once a week on their school grounds, 31% of high school students (more than 4 million) and 9% of middle school students (more than 1 million) see illegal drugs used, sold, students high and/or students drunk. At least weekly, 17% of all high and middle school students (4.4 million) personally see classmates high on drugs at school.
“This fall more than 16 million teens will return to middle and high schools where drug dealing, possession, use and students high on alcohol or drugs are part of the fabric of their school,” said Joseph A. Califano, Jr., CASA’s Chairman and President and former U.S. Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare. “Too many of our nation’s high and middle schools have become marijuana marts and pill-palaces. Parents should wake up to this reality and realize more likely than not, your teen is going to school each day in a building where drug use, sale and possession is as much a part of the curriculum as math or English and do something about it. For many of our middle and high school students, school days have become school daze.”
The CASA survey also found that since 2002 the proportion of students who attend schools where drugs are used, kept or sold has jumped 39% for high school students and 63% for middle school students. From 2006 to 2007 the proportion jumped 20% for high school students and 35% for middle school students.
Teens at Drug-Infested Schools Likelier to Use
Compared to teens at drug-free schools, those at drug-infested schools are:
Perils of Popularity
The CASA survey also found that popular teens who attend drug-infested schools are much likelier to smoke, get drunk, abuse prescription and illegal drugs.
Compared to teens who attend drug-free schools, teens who attend drug-infested schools are 5 ½ times likelier to say the popular kids at their school have a reputation for using drugs and 3 times likelier to say the popular kids at their school have a reputation for drinking a lot.
Among teens who consider themselves the most popular at their schools, compared to those at drug-free schools such teens at drug-infested schools are:
“CASA’s deeper dive into the American school system reveals that our nation’s youth are drenched in a culture where drug and alcohol abuse are commonplace and that drug-infested schools encourage the idea that it’s cool to get high and drunk,” noted Califano. “Over the past few years the corridors and classrooms of too many of our schools have become open drug bazaars for teens.”
Parental Attitudes and Teen Behavior
Teens are much likelier to smoke, drink and use drugs when their parents:
Only 11% of parents see drugs as their teen’s greatest concern, but twice as many teens (24%) say drugs are their greatest concern.
Other Striking Findings
QEV Analytics conducted The National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse XII: Teens and Parents from April 2 to May 13, 2007. The firm interviewed at home by telephone a national random sample of 1,063 12- to 17-year olds (554 boys, 509 girls) and 550 parents (53% of whom were parents of teens surveyed). Sampling error is +/- 3% for teens, +/- 4% for parents.
CASA is the only national organization that brings together under one roof all the professional disciplines needed to study and combat all types of substance abuse as they affect all aspects of society. CASA has issued 64 reports and white papers, published one book, conducted demonstration projects focused on children, families and schools at 201 sites in 73 cities and counties in 29 states plus Washington, DC and a Native American tribal reservation, and has been evaluating the effectiveness of drug and alcohol treatment in a variety of programs and drug courts. CASA is the creator of the nationwide initiative Family Day – A Day to Eat Dinner with Your ChildrenTM -- the fourth Monday in September – the 24th in 2007 -- that promotes parental engagement as a simple and effective way to reduce children’s risk of smoking, drinking and using drugs. For more information visit www.CASAColumbia.org.
*CASAColumbia at Columbia University is neither affiliated with, nor sponsored by, the National Court Appointed Special Advocate Association (also known as "CASA") or any of its member organizations with the name of "CASA."