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Lax Attitudesss Toward the Risks of Drug Use May Be To Blame
Survey data released today by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America reports that fathers talk less often with their children about the issue of drugs than do mothers. The data were drawn from the Partnership's latest Partnership Attitude Tracking Study (PATS).
The survey data, released on Father's Day, found that only 39 percent of fathers have talked to their kids "four or more times" in the past year about drugs, compared to 48 percent of mothers. Research has shown drug use is lower among teens who report learning a lot about the risks of drugs at home.
"Those of us who are fathers have to step up to the plate and start talking to our kids about the real dangers of drug use and other risky behaviors," said Tom Hedrick, director and founding member of the Partnership. "Not enough young people are getting a clear message about substance abuse, and research shows parents talking to kids early and often can make all the difference. We simply can't rely on mothers to do all of the heavy lifting."
The survey data also found fathers were less likely to see negative consequences in use of some drugs. Less than half of fathers report believing that if their child smokes marijuana, they will face consequences such as difficulty coping with life's problems and getting along with family.
Previously reported data from PATS found teen drug use trending downward in the United States. Lifetime use of any illegal drug is down by 10 percent over the last five years (from 51 percent in 1998 to 46 percent in 2003). Over the past five years, marijuana trial or lifetime use has declined seven percent (from 42 to 39 percent). And teen trial or lifetime use of Ecstasy, which peaked in 2001, has declined by 25 percent (from 12 to 9 percent).
"The progress we're making in reducing teen drug use tells us that drugs don't have to be considered a teenage right of passage," said Hedrick. "Attitudes are everything. When it comes to our kids, parents—as well as grandparents, mentors and other adults—are much more powerful in shaping their opinions about drugs than we often realize."
The 2003 PATS study, conducted for the Partnership by Roper Public Affairs and Media of NOP World, under grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, interviewed 1,228 parents nationwide. Data are nationally projectable with a +/-2.8 percent margin of error for the total sample.
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