Joseph A. Califano Jr., former federal secretary of Health/Education/Welfare has just published the 10th annual survey of 12- to 17-year-olds by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University.
It has a loud and clear message: Parents, if you want to raise drug-free kids, you cannot just place responsibility on their schools or law enforcement.
The odds are that drugs may be used, kept or sold at our schools, and laws prohibiting teen use of tobacco, alcohol or illegal drugs will have minor output.
What will motivate youths to stay drug free is how they perceive, he says, how Mom and Dad react to their smoking, drinking and drug use, their sense of immorality of such use by someone their age and whether they consider such use harmful to their health. Engaged and nourishing parents have the best shot at giving their youth the will and skills to say "no."
Parents have an important responsibility to monitor their children's conduct and know their children's friends. The good news is that strong, positive family relationships are a powerful deterrent. Frequent family dinners with religion encouraging an important part of their lives are the real sources of strength.
Americans' drug problem is not going to be solved in courtrooms, legislative hearing rooms or school rooms - or by judges, politicians or teachers. But it will be solved in living rooms and dining rooms and across kitchen tables by parents and families.
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