December 10, 2016
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Back-To-School Drug Survey Report Released

WASHINGTON - Twenty-seven percent of public school
students ages 12 to 17 say that their school is both gang- and drug-infected (drugs are
used, kept or sold on school grounds), according to the National Survey of American
Attitudes on Substance Abuse XV: Teens and Parents, the 15th annual back-to-school
survey conducted by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA*)
at Columbia University. This means that 5.7 million public school students attend
schools which are both gang- and drug-infected.
Compared to teens attending gang- and drug-free schools, teens who attend schools
infected with both gangs and drugs are:
ï‚· Five times likelier to use marijuana;
ï‚· Three times likelier to drink;
ï‚· Twelve times likelier to smoke;
ï‚· Three times likelier to be able to get marijuana within an hour or less and five times
likelier to get it within a day or less; and
ï‚· Nearly five times likelier to have a friend/classmate who uses illegal drugs like
acid, ecstasy, methamphetamine, cocaine or heroin.
The CASA survey also exposes a vast difference between public schools and private
and religious schools. It reveals that 46 percent of teens at public schools report that
there are gangs in their school, compared to two percent of teens at private and
religious schools.
The survey finds that the drug-free-school gap between public schools and private and
religious schools is up sharply from its narrowest point in a decade. In the 2001 CASA
survey, 62 percent of public school students and 79 percent of private and religious
school students said they attended drug-free schools; in this year’s survey, 43 percent
of public school students and 78 percent of private school students say they attended
drug-free schools, widening the drug-free-school gap from 17 points to 35 points.
“The combination of gangs and drugs in a school is a malignant cancer that must be eliminated if we are
to be able to improve public education in our nation,” said Joseph A. Califano, Jr., CASA Founder and
Chairman and former U.S. Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare. “It is outrageous for states and
localities to require parents to send their children to public schools infected with gangs and drugs. If
adults faced gangs and drugs at their factories or offices each day they would protest, call the police, and
if that failed, change jobs. Yet parents in many communities are expected to send their children to the
same school, day after day, to face the menace of gangs and drugs.”
The Middle School Mess
The CASA survey revealed that one in three middle schoolers say that drugs are used, kept or sold at their
school, a 39 percent increase since last year (32 percent in 2010 vs. 23 percent in 2009).
Compared to 12- and 13-year olds in drug-free schools, those in drug-infected schools are:
ï‚· Thirty-three times likelier to have tried tobacco;
ï‚· Seven times likelier to have a friend or classmate who uses illegal drugs like acid, ecstasy,
methamphetamine, cocaine or heroin;
ï‚· Five times likelier to know a friend or classmate who abuses prescription drugs; and
ï‚· Almost three times likelier to have tried alcohol.
In the CASA survey, no 12- and 13-year olds in drug-free schools have tried marijuana compared to 10
percent who have tried marijuana in drug-infected schools.
The report also found that 39 percent of 12- and 13-year olds in drug-infected schools can get alcohol in a
day or less, and 24 percent can get marijuana in a day or less.
The CASA survey found that 66 percent of high school students said their schools were drug infected,
continuing a steady increase in drug-infected high schools since 2006 when 51 percent of high school
students said that they attended drug-infected schools.
“This steady increase in the number of 12- to 17-year olds attending drug-infected schools is a trajectory
to tragedy for millions of children and families,” said Califano. “Placing our youngest teens and pre-teens
in an environment where drinking and drugging are common is child abuse by states and localities that
are obliged to keep their schools drug free.”
Family Ties
This year the CASA survey took a close look at Family Ties, the bond between parents and their teens,
and sought to assess how Family Ties influence the likelihood that a teen will smoke, drink or use illegal
drugs. Compared to teens in families with strong Family Ties, teens in families with weak Family Ties
are:
ï‚· Four times likelier to try tobacco;
ï‚· Four times likelier to try marijuana;
ï‚· Almost three times likelier to drink;
ï‚· Twice as likely to have a friend/classmate who abuses prescription drugs; and
ï‚· Twice as likely to have a friend/classmate who uses illegal drugs such as acid, ecstasy,
methamphetamine, cocaine or heroin.
“This year’s survey underscores how critical it is for parents to forge close Family Ties with their children
and really know their children’s friends,” said Kathleen Ferrigno, CASA’s Director of Marketing who
directs the CASA Family Day-A Day to Eat Dinner with Your ChildrenTM initiative. “In today’s world a
parent has no greater tool to help keep their child drug free than communication. Strong Family Ties and
in-depth knowledge of a teen’s friends are critical components to foster a child’s health.”
Other Key Findings Related to Teen Substance Use
ï‚· When teens that can get marijuana were asked who they would get it from, 76 percent said a
friend/classmate; 30 percent said that their parents know the person supplying the marijuana.
ï‚· Eighty-six percent of parents support social host laws that make it illegal for parents to allow
underage children (other than their own) to drink in their home.
ï‚· Seventy-five percent of teens say that teens they know who drink or use drugs are more likely to
engage in sexual activity.
ï‚· Compared to teens who say that none of their friends drink regularly, those whose friends drink on a
regular basis are 13 times likelier to have tried marijuana.
ï‚· Teens who have tried tobacco are 12 times likelier to have used marijuana compared to teens who
have never tried tobacco.
CASA conducted two concurrent surveys this year. For the first time, CASA used Knowledge Networks
to do an Internet-based survey administered to a nationally representative sample of 1,055 teens (540
boys, 515 girls), and 456 of their parents, from April 8 to April 27, 2010. Sampling error is +/- 3.1 for
teens and +/- 4.6 for parents. As in the past, CASA used QEV Analytics to do a survey of trend questions
at home by telephone which was administered to a nationally representative sample of 1,000 teens (511
boys, 489 girls) from April 6 to April 27, 2010. Sampling error is +/- 3.1.
CASA is the only national organization that brings together under one roof all the professional disciplines
needed to study and combat abuse of all substances—alcohol, nicotine, illegal, prescription and
performance enhancing drugs—in all sectors of society. Founded in 1992 by former U.S. Secretary of
Health, Education, and Welfare, Joseph A. Califano, Jr., CASA and its staff of some 60 professionals aim
to inform Americans of the economic and social costs of substance abuse and its impact on their lives,
find out what works in prevention and treatment of this disease, and remove the stigma of substance abuse
and replace shame and despair with hope.
CASA has issued 72 reports and white papers, published three books, conducted demonstration programs
focused on children, families and schools in 36 states and Washington, D.C., held 19 conferences, and has
been evaluating drug and alcohol treatment and prevention programs to determine what works best for
what individuals. CASA is the creator of the nationwide initiative Family Day—A Day to Eat Dinner with
Your ChildrenTM – the fourth Monday in September—the 27th in 2010—that promotes parental
engagement as a simple and effective way to reduce children’s risk of smoking, drinking and using illegal
drugs. The most recent CASA book, How To Raise a Drug Free Kid: The Straight Dope for Parents by
Joseph A. Califano, Jr., a practical, user friendly book of advice and information for parents, is widely
available in paperback.


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