Parents: First Line Defense in War on Drugs
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PARENTS: FIRST LINE DEFENSE IN WAR ON DRUGS
Parents: First Line Defense in the War on Drugs
Gregory D. Martin
Austin Peay State University
Drug abuse is costly to our society as a whole but is especially harmful to our youth. Youths immature physical and psychological development makes them more susceptible than adults to the harmful effects of drug abuse. Behavior patterns that result from teen and preteen drug use often produce tragic consequences. Self-degradation, loss of control, disruptive conduct, and antisocial attitudes can cause untold harm to juveniles and their families. Family intervention is the first line defense in the war on drugs.
Drugs in America: Attack on Our Children
Drugs in America are having a devastating effect on our youth. The undeveloped minds and bodies of our children are more susceptible to drug usage and effects than are adults. Behavior that stems from drug usage by teenagers and preteens often leads to catastrophic and tragic outcomes. Drugs not only affect our kids, but they also have a detrimental and long lasting effect on our families and society as a whole. In the war on drugs, and our attempt as a nation to control the drug trade and crime associated with it, parents must be the first line defense.
Drugs continue to be a problem among teenagers. One tenth of students nationwide had tried marijuana for the 1st time before the age of 13. (MMWR, 2004, pg18). According to the latest national survey in the Monitoring the Future series, the proportion of older teens that use illicit drugs continued to decline in 2005. However, the long-term improvements that had been occurring among 8th graders since 1996 appear to have halted. (Schulenberg, 2005, web).
As teenagers begin to indulge in drugs and alcohol, they become more susceptible to the problems associated with the drug trade. Violent crimes, addiction, and sexually transmitted disease are all negative consequences of drug usage as is apparent from the CDC report that states 34% of teenager that were sexually active, over 25% used alcohol or drugs prior to engaging in sex.(MMWR, 2004, pg22).
Studies show that teens that engage in serious acts of violence generally have a life style that involves risky behavior, drugs, weapons, driving recklessly, and having unsafe sex. Statistics show that “1 in 9 murders were committed by youth under 18” and that “youth under 18 accounted for about 1 in 6 violent crime arrests in 1999. (Zawitz, 2001, web). The use of drugs may lead teens to engage in or commit serious criminal acts to support their habit. Youth who are serious, chronic and violent offenders make up less than half of one percent of youth who come into contact with the juvenile justice system. (National Crime Prevention Council, Speaking Out for Youth & Justice Kit for Community Leaders). Many other teens are effected by drug spawned crime and often live in fear of hurt or harm that may be done to them or their famililes. Almost half of teens have changed their behavior because of fear of crime, including skipping school, changing routes to and from school, avoiding certain places or changing friends. Teenagers dont want to be involved in violence, but often involvement with drugs causes them to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Almost nine out of ten children were willing to get involved in prevention programs, if only they knew how. (National Crime Prevention Council, Speaking Out for Youth & Justice Kit for Community Leaders).
The assault on our young people certainly goes beyond them to our families and our communities. Even though youth who are serious, chronic and violent offenders make up less than half of one percent of youth who come into contact with the juvenile justice system. (National Crime Prevention Council, Speaking Out for Youth & Justice Kit for Community Leaders), the effect of drugs and crime on young people can be devastating to families.
Problem drug use has a profound impact on all family members. Mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters are caught in the sticky situation that drug problems almost inevitably create. Furthermore, when drugs come into a family, there is the danger that siblings