Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Best Weapon in War on Drugs: Sixth Grade Prevention Programs in Schools Reduce Abuse by Up to 75 Percent

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Best Weapon in War on Drugs: Sixth Grade Prevention Programs in Schools Reduce Abuse by Up to 75 Percent

Article excerpt

The most promising frontier in the nation's long-standing war on drugs isn't in the jungles of South America or along the US-Mexico border. It is in sixth- and seventh-grade classrooms where American schoolchildren are learning how to protect themselves from drug abuse.

After 20 years of research and testing, the results are in. Drug-prevention programs - following certain accepted principles - dramatically reduce the number of children who fall prey to smoking, drinking, and illicit drug use.

One such program has reduced such behavior by 50 to 75 percent among seventh-graders. "We've proven that prevention can work," says Gilbert Botvin of Cornell University Medical College in Ithaca, N.Y. "Today we have the tools available to us to prevent teen drug use." Adds J. David Hawkins of the University of Washington: "We are at a point of breakthrough." Both men are leading experts in drug-abuse prevention. They spoke this week at a conference in Arlington, Va., where the nation's best preventive programs were on display for some 400 school officials. The upbeat comments couldn't have come at a better time. Once again, the nation is in the midst of sharply rising rates of drug use among its teens. After falling throughout the 1980s, teenage drug use turned upward in the early 1990s. Prevention experts hope that as information about the best scientifically proven programs spreads across the country, and those programs are adopted, the dangerous trend of increased teen drug abuse will reverse. Lloyd Johnson of the University of Michigan studies patterns of teenage drug use. He says alarming increases in cigarette and marijuana smoking resulted in part from many young people's perception that smoking and marijuana use aren't very dangerous. "There are culture-wide forces at work, mostly among adolescents," Professor Johnson says. Contributing to those forces, he says, was a 93 percent drop in news coverage of drug-addiction issues between 1989 - when the crack-cocaine epidemic was in full swing - and 1993. During the same period, parents talked less frequently to their children about drugs, and drug use was portrayed as exciting and "cool" by Hollywood and the recording industry, Johnson says. In addition, federal funding for drug-free school programs dropped from $623 million in 1992 to $466 million last year. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.