Parents of teenagers who think their child is safe during school hours should think again. According to a new study, nearly 90 percent of U.S. public high school students are aware that other students are abusing drugs, drinking or smoking during school hours. About 50 percent of students have at least one friend who uses illegal drugs such as heroin, cocaine, meth, acid and ecstasy and one third admit to having a friend who abuses prescription or over-the-counter drugs.
Drug Dealers in Public and Private Schools
The 17th annual back-to-school survey conducted by Columbia University’s National Center of Addiction and Substance Abuse involved about 1,000 teenage boys and girls who responded to questions about substance abuse by phone. Joseph A. Califano, chairman and founder of the center, described the survey results as profoundly disturbing.
The survey found that 60 percent of public high school students say that drugs are available for sale on campus and 44 percent personally know a classmate who deals hard-core drugs at school. More than 90 percent know a student who sells marijuana. A surprising 32 percent of public middle school students said that classmates sell drugs at school.
The survey also noted an increase in drug use in private high schools, with 54 percent of private school students describing their campus as “drug infested.” This is up from 36 percent in 2011.
Digital Peer Pressure
The survey looked at factors that contribute to teenage substance abuse. “Digital peer pressure” in the form of Internet images of peers doing drugs, drinking and passing out was identified by 75 percent of students as influencing their own decision to use drugs or alcohol. According to Califano, digital peer pressure from social media sites like Facebook and YouTube can move beyond a child’s immediate circle of friends and acquaintances and enter the home via the Internet.