- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 29, 1999

Differing views on teen drug study

Your Dec. 27 editorial "High on Public Relations" was correct in its assessment that adolescent drug use is unacceptably high despite improvements in the situation documented by the 1999 Monitoring the Future survey. What's wrong with your editorial is the false presumption that youth drug use correlates with electoral terms and hence should be used as a club with which to slug one party or the other over the head. In point of fact, drug-use patterns among youngsters overlap presidential elections.
&160;&160;&160;&160;&160;&160;Youth attitudes toward illegal drugs began changing in 1990 for marijuana and 1991 for cocaine. In the following five years, children's perception of the risk associated with drug abuse increased. Research proves that youth attitudes are a harbinger of behavior. When youngsters believe drug use is harmful, substance abuse declines. The years when our kids began seeing drugs differently preceded the current administration.
&160;&160;&160;&160;&160;&160;In February 1996, when National Drug Policy Director Barry McCaffrey then an active-duty four-star general testified during his Senate confirmation hearing, he noted that teen-age use of marijuana had doubled over the previous three years. Gen. McCaffrey called for prevention efforts to be strengthened, which he did through a number of unprecedented initiatives including an anti-drug media campaign for youth and increased drug treatment. Had the trends Gen. McCaffrey inherited not been reversed, current rates of illegal drug use for eighth-graders easily could be much higher than the current 12.2 percent figure we deplore or celebrate, depending upon one's temperament. Whether a person sings the blues because good news isn't good enough or whistles a happy tune when improvement becomes evident has more to do with personal styles of pessimism or optimism. Realists such as Gen. McCaffrey, who can recognize accomplishment and celebrate achievement, are more likely to stay the course and avoid undue disillusionment.
&160;&160;&160;&160;&160;&160;Everyone agrees that more work needs to be done, but we can take pride in the fact that drug-use statistics are encouraging. Let's consider some heartening numbers. The National Household Survey on Drug Abuse found that past-month drug use by 12- to 17-year-olds declined 13 percent between 1997 and 1998. The 1998 Pride Survey of 100,000 students in grades six through 12 echoed those findings. The Partnership for a Drug-Free America Attitude Tracking Survey discovered that the percentage of teens encountering anti-drug ads every day increased from 32 percent in 1998 to 45 percent in 1999. Likewise, the percentage of teen-agers who strongly agreed that "kids who are really cool don't use drugs" increased from 35 percent in 1998 to 40 percent in 1999. In the 1999 Back to School Survey administered by the Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, 63 percent of teens reported parents talking to them about the risks of drug use up from 53 percent in 1998. The number of young people who think their schools are drug-free rose from 31 percent in 1998 to 44 percent in 1999. Finally, the Gallup Poll "Consult With America" reveals that drug abuse is among the top three issues on which people are willing to spend tax dollars.
&160;&160;&160;&160;&160;&160;Should we wring our hands or clap them? The decision is up to you. But as soon as you're finished, we need to return to the hard work of reducing drug abuse, which is a long-term affair that transcends partisan squabbles.
&160;&160;&160;&160;&160;&160;FRANCIS X. KINNEY
&160;&160;&160;&160;&160;&160;Director of strategy
&160;&160;&160;&160;&160;&160;Office of National Drug Control Policy


Thanks to The Washington Times for the lead editorial criticizing the political spin being put on the recent Monitoring the Future teen drug-use study. The perceptive editorial brought us back to reality from a moment of unjustified hope that America's teen drug and violence problem may be improving substantially.
&160;&160;&160;&160;&160;&160;Although the study's authors and sponsors certainly were accentuating the few bright spots, the study also included many hard facts documenting the continuing tragically high levels of drug use among teens.
&160;&160;&160;&160;&160;&160;Several similar studies have been released in the past few weeks, and in total, they paint a bleak picture for America's kids and families. Capping those studies was the Dec. 20 Time magazine article revealing the irrational hatred and anger of the two teen shooters at Columbine High School, whose use of the illegal (for teens) drug alcohol has been revealed as a possible explanation for the inordinate rage that led to their horrific school massacre. The daily drumbeat of news stories about babies being scalded and beaten, abused and murdered by drug-crazed parents and baby sitters also continues to add to the overwhelming evidence that drugs make many people insane. With this enormous volume of information proving the disastrous effects of drugs on public safety, particularly among young vulnerable children, it becomes obvious that this nation is in the midst of a social crisis at least as great as any ever before experienced in American history.
&160;&160;&160;&160;&160;&160;The facts contained in these studies and news reports will have to be faced honestly if we are ever to fix the awful problem. It certainly is counterproductive to developing real solutions to this serious problem when public officials feed the massive denial of this American tragedy by spinning deceptive conclusions to these important scientific studies.
&160;&160;&160;&160;&160;&160;Thank God for the objective honesty of The Washington Times in its coverage of the drug problem. It is like a breath of fresh air in the smog of soft-on-drugs partisan spinning coming from your competition.
&160;&160;&160;&160;&160;&160;DEFOREST RATHBONE
&160;&160;&160;&160;&160;&160;National Institute of Citizen Anti-drug Policy
&160;&160;&160;&160;&160;&160;Great Falls

Redskins' quarterback made the grade

In the "Redskins grades" graphic ("Not greatest team, but its a playoff one in a mediocre year," Sports, Dec. 27), one wonders if the reporter looked at much of the game against the San Francisco 49ers or the game's statistics in giving quarterback Brad Johnson a grade of B.
&160;&160;&160;&160;&160;&160;Let's see, Johnson threw for 471 yards; hit 68 percent of his passes; averaged 10 yards per pass attempt; ran for a touchdown; and threw the game-winning touchdown pass. Johnson was involved in all three of the Redskins touchdowns.
&160;&160;&160;&160;&160;&160;In certain ways, Johnson's play was even better than his statistics reveal. His lone interception bounced off the hands of Redskins' receiver Albert Connell. On a number of occasions, Redskins receivers slipped on the moist turf, missing catchable throws. Redskins pass protection, the reporter admits, was weak. The San Francisco defense focused on the pass, since the Redskins' Stephen Davis-less running game was at best anemic although the C-plus grade the reporter somehow gave the running backs is only slightly lower than Johnson's.
&160;&160;&160;&160;&160;&160;Granted, the 49ers have a weak pass defense, but Johnson's performance has to be rated as one of the best by a quarterback this year. Clearly, the Redskins would have lost the game without his supreme performance.
&160;&160;&160;&160;&160;&160;What else would Johnson have to do to earn an A grade throw for 600 yards and six touchdowns; double as a defensive tackle to stop the seemingly unstoppable San Francisco running game; carry sedatives up to Redskins owner Daniel Snyder's box? Come on, give Johnson a break and revise that grade.
&160;&160;&160;&160;&160;&160;STEPHEN J. SNIEGOSKI

Thinning of deer population should be done more compassionately

I would like to understand the purpose behind Tom Knott's Dec. 16 column "Bambi-lovers have narrow focus on deer-culling hunters" (Metropolitan). If he is trying to convert people on deer hunting, he will not accomplish it by mocking the animal-rights activists. And if his intent was simply to mock, I question the worth of such a column.
&160;&160;&160;&160;&160;&160;I understand that humans consider themselves superior to other living beings. But should not superiority suggest compassion? Where is ours? We show more compassion for convicted murderers on death row giving them a last meal and allowing them to die peacefully by lethal injection. Why are they deserving of our compassion while deer are not?
&160;&160;&160;&160;&160;&160;Lately we have been questioning the lack of compassion on the part of children who gun down their classmates. We know that children who abuse animals are more likely to become violent as they grow older. What does that say about a society that encourages the slaughter of an animal population? Society not only encourages it, but makes it into a sport and a community event.
&160;&160;&160;&160;&160;&160;I understand the rationale behind reducing the deer population, but certainly this can be achieved in a more humane fashion. We would not accept this cruelty if deer were domesticated. Why is it acceptable just because they are wild? Obviously Mr. Knott does not agree with this. I suggest that he write a column promoting his views rather than mockingly dismissing those of animal-rights activists since he doesn't have any knowledge of where they truly stand.
&160;&160;&160;&160;&160;&160;KELLY COFFEY

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