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Back to School 1998: National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse IV: Teens, Teachers and Principals

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 1998
100 pages
A telephone survey of random samples of teachers, principals, and adolescents gathered information on attitudes toward illegal drugs and other drug abuse issues.
The survey took place during May-July 1998. The participants included 345 middle school teachers, 478 high school teachers, 822 principals of middle or high schools, and 1,000 adolescents ages 12-17 years. Adolescents continued to rank drugs as the single most important problem facing people their age, whereas principals said that bad parents or family problems were the biggest problem. Eight percent of 12-year-olds and 56 percent of 17-year-olds knew a drug dealer at school. Two of five middle school students and two of three high school students knew a friend or classmate who had used acid, cocaine, or heroin. The social use of marijuana was extensive. In addition, 38 percent of the 15-year-olds, 42 percent of the 16-year-olds, and 54 percent of the 17-year-olds said that a majority of the parties they attended in the past 6 months had alcohol available. Almost two-thirds of 12-year-old smokers cited their friends as the reason they started; peer influence declined as teens became older. Twenty-two percent of the teen smokers said they continued to smoke because they were addicted. The transition from age 12 to 13 years marked the most dramatic increase in youths' exposure to drugs and changed attitudes about drugs and parental involvement in their lives. Factors associated with lower rates of drug use included attending religious services regularly, eating dinner often with parents, and always telling parents where they were going on the weekend. Finally, teenagers who used one substance were also far more likely to use another than were other teenagers. Tables, figures, and attached instruments


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