- The Washington Times - Friday, July 20, 2001

Parental involvement, discipline and communication play a major role in declining teen drug use, according to annual Pride Survey results based on responses from more than 75,000 students across the country.

"The Pride findings reinforce what we already know: youth with strong parental influences and access to local support networks are much less likely to use illegal drugs," said Edward Jurith, acting director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

According the survey released yesterday, the percentage of students using alcohol and tobacco is the lowest in 13 years, at 30.5 percent and 52.1 percent respectively. Drug use among middle school students, grades 6-8, has fallen 34 percent in the past five years, but high school drug use saw an increase during the past school year for both annual and monthly usage.

"Efforts to reach early teens with anti-drug messages successfully reduced drug use by junior high students over the past five years. However, during that same period, use among 12th graders remained flat," said Thomas Gleaton, author of the study. "Perhaps it's time to target older students with anti-drug strategies."

Mr. Gleaton cautioned parents to "be clear with the rules and the punishments" in order to protect their children from being tempted to use drugs. Among student who lived under "clearly set rules about family standards," 15.7 percent reported drug use, while 44.4 percent of those who "never" received clear rules from their parents used drugs.

Among students whose parents talked to them about drugs, 18.8 percent reported drug use, compared with 34.5 percent of those whose parents who avoided the subject.

Extracurricular and community involvement have also proved successful against illegal substance abuse. The survey found 34.6 percent of those children who "never" participated in school activities admitted illicit drug use, but 18.8 percent of those who were involved "a lot" after school reported illicit drug use.

Similarly, among teens who were heavily involved in their communities, only 14.6 percent used drugs, while it was 32.6 percent for those who "never" got involved in the community. Church-attending students reported 14.5 percent illicit drug use, versus 38.2 percent who "never" attend church, synagogue or any other religious organization.

"Local anti-drug coalition efforts, aggressive media campaigns and more strict underage alcohol and tobacco enforcement have impacted community norms," said Arthur Dean, chairman of Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America. "We need to expand upon these media and education programs and do a better job curbing drug use among senior high school students."

Drug use was highest among students living with single fathers (38.4 percent). Among students raised by single mothers, 28.3 percent used drugs. Students raised in two-parent households showed the lowest drug use, at 20.4 percent.

"When you have less than one parent, relations with your children are more difficult," said Bob McGinnis, vice president for policy at the Family Research Council. "That doesn't mean that a mother or father who is committed to keeping their child drug-free cannot do so, but statistics are against them."

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