(Continued from January 16, 2010) - ..... The findings in the report, 2009 Monitoring the Future, are based on data collected from 46,097 U.S. students in 8th, 10th and 12th grades at 389 public and private schools.
Just 1.2 percent of 12th graders said they had used methamphetamine in the past year -- the lowest percentage since 1999, according to the report. Also, fewer 10th graders said it was easy to obtain: 14 percent, down from 19.5 percent in 2004.
Smoking was reported at the lowest point in the survey's history among 8th, 10th and 12th graders. Among 8th graders, 2.7 percent said they smoked daily, down from 10.4 percent in 1996. In 1997, 24 percent of high school seniors said they smoked daily, whereas this year's report indicated an 11.2 percent smoking rate among 12th graders.
However, use of smokeless tobacco has risen to 6.5 percent of 10th graders, according to the report -- a rate that's higher than last year and the same as it was in 1999.
Compton said that another area of concern is the use of marijuana. Although there has been a trend toward less use since the mid-1990s, the decline has stopped and as many teens are using the drug today as five years ago.
The latest survey reported marijuana use at the same rates as last year: 32.8 percent of 12th graders, 26.7 percent of 10th graders and 11.8 percent of 8th graders.
Moreover, fewer teens indicated that they perceived marijuana use as harmful: 44.8 percent of 8th graders this year, compared with 48.1 percent last year and 57.9 percent in 1991, the survey found.
If you have a middle school child, please read that last paragraph again, as it states that only 44.8% of 8th graders believe that marijuana use is harmful. That means that 55.2% of the 8th graders do not believe that marijuana has any harmful effects! How could this be? How has it come to the point that over half of our 8th graders believe that marijuana use is O.K.?
Again, it goes back to peer pressure, kids feeling unloved, and drug use taking the place of good friends and actively involved parents. After all, no matter who lets the kids down, their old friend “marijuana” is always ready to comfort them. That, coupled with the fact that marijuana is readily accessible, provides a double-edged sword to drug use among teens!
Again, before it is too late, check out everything that your kids are doing, with whom they are doing it, and monitor their expected arrival times. It only takes one lapse in parental responsibility for a child to dive into the deep end of the drug use pool.
Are you scared or alarmed? Good, you need to be. Without question, after seeing literally hundreds of students and parents over the years in my office to discus this exact issue, drug use among our teens is at an all-time high, it’s getting worse, and our kids see no problem with it. Your time to be involved is now. Yes, they’ll think that you’re a pain in the neck, but at least they’ll be alive and healthy. Oh, and a good back rub can take care of that pain in the neck!
Hang in there! Just when we thought that parenting cold not get any tougher, well, it has. Stay involved and pay attention to everything that your child does. Together, we can defeat drug use among teens and especially with your child. It’s an uphill battle, but with the proper hours being logged, we can do it!
(Please come back next week for the 3rd and final part)
Paul W. Reeves