Keep talking: U.S. kids
get anti-drug pitch
Billings Gazette opinion
This is for all the parents, grandparents,
teachers and mentors who wonder whether their kids are
listening when they talk about the dangers of tobacco,
alcohol and other drugs.
American youths are less likely to use
those substances if they hear anti-tobacco, anti-alcohol or
anti-drug messages. That fact was confirmed again in the
2003 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. This annual
survey, conducted by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental
Health Services Administration, involved more than 22,000
Americans between the ages of 12 and 17. The 2003 survey
results released recently show that youths who had heard
anti-drug messages were less likely to drink, less likely to
engage in binge drinking and less likely to use illegal
drugs than were youths who reported not hearing any
Nearly 60 percent of the youths surveyed
reported having talked with at least one parent about the
dangers of using tobacco, alcohol and drugs in the year
before the survey. But an even more common setting for
youths to hear anti-drug messages was in regular school
classes (68 percent).
Among youths surveyed, 83.6 percent
reported having heard or seen a drug prevention message in
the past year on posters, pamphlets or in mass media. Those
who said they'd heard prevention messages in the media were
less likely to say they'd been drinking or using drugs in
the past month.
Communication is effective in reducing
youth substance use and abuse. Telling kids why they should
keep away from drugs isn't a guarantee that they will stay
drug-free. But it improves their chances.
The SAMHSA survey should strengthen
adults' resolve to broach these uncomfortable subjects with
children. Kids are listening. Let's keep talking.