More teens are saying there are drugs in their schools, and those who have access to them are more likely to try them, says a new Columbia University survey reported by the Associated Press. Twenty-eight percent of middle-school-student respondents reported that drugs are used, kept, or sold at their schools, a 47 percent jump since 2002, said the 10th annual teen survey by Columbia’s National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse. The number of high schoolers saying drugs are at their schools rose 41 percent in the last three years, to 62 percent.
Twelve-to-17-year-olds who report that there are drugs in their schools are three times likelier to try marijuana and twice as likely to drink alcohol than teens who say their schools are drug free, the survey showed. “Availability is the mother of use,” said Joseph Califano Jr., the center’s president. “We really are putting an enormous number of 12- to 17-year-olds at great risk.” Nearly half of those surveyed said the fact that marijuana is illegal doesn’t affect whether they use or don’t use the drug. “If this survey does anything, it really shouts to parents: You cannot outsource your responsibility to law enforcement or the schools,” Califano said. “I think when parents feel as strongly about drugs in the schools as they do about asbestos in the schools, we’ll start getting the drugs out of the schools.”