Mom and Dad's disapproval a greater deterrant than the law when it comes to drugs and alcohol

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Latest survey shows steep rise in students attending schools with access to drugs.

According to a survey by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA), the number of students attending schools where drugs are used, kept or sold has risen 41 percent for high school students and 47 percent for middle school students, since 2002.

The National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse X: Teens and Parents, in its tenth annual back-to-school survey, has found that 62 percent of high school students and 28 percent of middle school students, now attend drug infected schools.

Joseph A. Califano, Jr., CASA’s chairman and president and former U.S. Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, says this means that 10.6 million high schoolers and 2.4 million middle schoolers are returning to schools where they will find drugs are used, kept and sold.

He says parents and education officials in Washington and the states, cities and counties should be campaigning to get drugs out of schools.

The survey also reveals that teen perceptions of immorality, parental disapproval and harm to health are far more powerful deterrents to teen smoking, drinking and drug use than legal restrictions on the purchase of cigarettes and alcohol or the illegality of using drugs like marijuana, LSD, cocaine and heroin.

Teens who consider marijuana use "not morally wrong" in their age group are 19 times more likely to use it than those who view it as "seriously morally wrong."

Teens who say their parents would be "a little upset" or "not upset at all" if they used marijuana are six times more likely to try marijuana than those whose parents would be "extremely upset."

Teens who consider marijuana to be "not too harmful" or "not harmful at all" are eight times likelier to try marijuana than those who consider marijuana "very harmful".

It also seems that morality, parental attitude and health considerations are powerful influences on whether teens drink or smoke.

Most teens however say that legal restrictions have no effect on their decision to smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol, and almost half say that illegality has no effect on their decision to use marijuana or LSD, cocaine and heroin.

Califano says it is clear that when it comes to the legal issues of smoking and drinking, and using drugs like marijuana and cocaine, that morality trumps illegality in deterring teen smoking, drinking and drug use, and 'parent power' is the most effective way to discourage teen drug use.

He says that most kids get their sense of morality from their parents, and the message of the survey is clear.

Parents, he says, cannot outsource their role to law enforcement.

Another interesting revelation was that 43 percent of 12 to 17 year olds see three or more R-rated movies each month either in theaters or on home video.

A rather more worrying indication was that these teens are seven times likelier to smoke cigarettes, six times likelier to try marijuana and five times likelier to drink alcohol.

Far more teens now say that their friends and classmates use illegal drugs.

The survey found that teens who attend schools where drugs are used, kept or sold are three times likelier to try marijuana, more than three times likelier to get drunk in a typical month and twice as likely to use alcohol, compared to teens who attend drug-free schools.

Students attending high schools where drugs are used, kept or sold, reckon that 44 percent of their schoolmates regularly use illegal drugs, compared to a 27 percent estimate by students in drug-free high schools.

It was also found that substance abuse risk is nearly twice as high for students attending schools where smoking is permitted.

Nearly half of smaller high schools, with fewer than 1,000 students, are reported to be drug free, compared to less than a third of larger high schools of 1,000 or more students.

Nearly three-quarters of smaller middle schools are reported to be drug free, compared to about half of larger middle schools.

The survey also found that teens who say that more than half their friends are sexually active, are nearly six times likelier to smoke, drink and use drugs.

Apparently the ten percent of teens who say that more than half of their friends engage in casual sex, are nearly four times likelier to smoke, drink and use drugs.

One in three teens say that drugs are their biggest concern, whereas only slightly more than one in ten parents rank drugs as their teen’s top concern.

Marijuana is reported by 23 percent of teens to be easier to buy than cigarettes or beer, and it appears that forty-two percent of 12 to 17 year olds (11 million) can buy marijuana within a day, and 21 percent (5.5 million) can buy it in an hour or less.

It also appeared that teens who attend religious services weekly are at half the risk of substance abuse as those who do not.

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