Student Drug-Use Crosses Racial Lines

WHITE students are more likely than black students to use all kinds of drugs - from liquor to cocaine and hallucinogens - according to a nationwide survey of drug use by sixth- to 12th-grade students. ``For all too long, this problem has been portrayed as a black problem, and I think the end result has been that there are some people who have not really cared a lot about it because of that,'' said Judge Reggie Walton, associate director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

In the nationwide survey by the Parents' Resource Institute for Drug Education (PRIDE), a parents' group formed to fight drug abuse, 15 percent of the 58,898 black respondents said cocaine was ``very easy to get,'' compared with 8 percent of 296,180 whites. However, totals for the use of cocaine, liquor, marijuana, hallucinogens, and stimulants showed that a higher percentage of white students than black students were using these drugs.

``It goes against conventional wisdom - particularly television has portrayed the problem of drug abuse in the US as a black, inner-city problem,'' said Doug Hall, vice president of PRIDE.

The focus on inner-city drug use by blacks ``feeds the increasing expressions of racism that surface daily in our country,'' PRIDE co-founder Marsha Keith Schuchard said.

Atlanta-based PRIDE surveyed the students at 958 schools in 38 states during the 1988-89 school year, including students in inner-city areas in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, New York, and Washington, Mr. Hall said.

Of the 40,000 high school seniors surveyed, only 4 percent of the black students said they had used cocaine at least once in the previous year, while 7 percent of the white students said they had done so.

Meanwhile, 11 percent of black male seniors and 12 percent of white male seniors said they used marijuana very frequently, meaning at least once a week. Fourteen percent of black male seniors and 17 percent of white male seniors said they used liquor very frequently.

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