Parent Power Over Drug Use

Behind some good news that illicit drug use among American youth is starting to wane is another piece of good news - that more parents are talking to their children about the dangers of drugs.

That's the conclusion of a national survey by Partnership for a Drug Free America, a coalition of advertising and public relations professionals. The survey, which is done annually, found that 57 percent of parents interviewed said they'd talked to their kids about drug use at least four times in the past year. That compared with 44 percent a year earlier (1998).

And more parents said they had discussed the matter "thoroughly" with their children. It's a little vague just what "thoroughly" means, but the survey suggests one measure of this is a willingness to specify the negative impact of drug use. Increased numbers of parents had discussed the destructive effects on kids' minds, their ability to do well in school, and on their lives in general.

Along with the warnings, we trust, parents are emphasizing the rewards of remaining free from the cloud of addiction - to tobacco and alcohol and some over-the-counter or prescription drugs as well as illegal substances. What's at stake is the mental and spiritual clarity to realize one's potential and form good relationships.

The survey did include a couple of less optimistic notes. Many parents, it seems, have doubts that anything they say will have much influence on what their children do. One reason for that, in many cases, could be a belief among adults - based perhaps on their own youthful experience - that kids will experiment with things like marijuana no matter what.

Two points here. First, there's no law that one generation has to repeat the mistakes of the last one. Human beings can progress. Second, parents that recognize their own mistakes have the potential of speaking with added authority, not less.

And perhaps most important, teens surveyed have consistently said that the biggest risk they link to drug use is disappointing their parents.

Parents have more influence over children - and wisdom and ability to use it - than they may realize.

The survey can be found on the Web at www.drugfreeamerica.org.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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