Originally published on Savvy Auntie.
In a recent survey reported by HealthDay News, about half of the participating students knew classmates who sold drugs and the local hotspots for drinking or getting high during the day.
The survey was released by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASAColumbia), in New York City, and shows 90% of American high school students have reported that some of their peers use illicit drugs, including tobacco and alcohol, during the day – with rough estimates of about 17% of students (2.8 million) abusing drugs during school hours.
According to the survey, drug-dealing is not unknown on many school campuses – 44% of high school students reported that they knew fellow classmates who sold drugs at school. Half of the participants even knew places close by where students went to drink and get high during school hours; more than a third claimed that students had many opportunities during the school day to drink, smoke, and use without having to worry about getting caught.
Although not directly involved in the survey, Bruce Goldman, director of substance abuse services at Zucker Hillside Hospital in Glen Oaks, New York, stated:
The findings are alarming but not surprising. We know that teens abuse alcohol, cannabis, prescription medications. It makes sense that they do it at school where they congregate with their peers.
The results of the survey may not come as a shock to most, but an interesting twist can be seen in the way social media seems to contribute to today’s growing trend of drug use in both public and private schools. 75% of teens said that online photos of partying teens on Facebook, MySpace, or other social networking sites have urged them to follow suit – almost half admitted that the teens in the photos are generally seen as “having a good time.” Those who saw such photos on their newsfeeds were 3-4 times more likely to have used marijuana, alcohol, or tobacco than those who didn’t usually view such images. The director for the survey and senior policy analyst with CASAColumbia, Emily Feinstein, agreed: “Seeing teens partying with alcohol or marijuana on Facebook and other sites encourages other teens to want to party like that.”
So, what can Auntie do to keep teenage nieces and nephews in the classroom and away from drinking and drugging hubs? Here are a few suggestions:
1. Make sure there is always someone at home with the kids overnight. According to the report, children who are left home alone overnight are twice as likely to have used alcohol or marijuana and three times as likely to have used tobacco when compared to those who have company overnight. If their parents work nights, consider offering to stay over with the kids.
2. Talk to them about the dangers and the consequences of smoking, drinking, and using drugs. While it’s always a good idea to talk and connect with your nieces and nephews directly, remember to be vigilant; and remind their parents to be aware of their kids’ friends – both at school and online.
3. Talk to teachers and staff. If students have knowledge of where the drugs, smokes, and drinks are located, make sure that school personnel is on top of things – especially when most of the illicit activity occurs on or near school grounds.