Girls Surpassing Boys in At-Risk Behaviors

The White House Drug Czar has released a new study that indicates teenage girls across the United States are using marijuana, alcohol, and cigarettes at higher rates than boys.

The national survey on drug use and health finds 1.5 million girls ages 12-17 started drinking alcohol in 2004, as compared with 1.28 million boys in the same age range. Girls also surpassed boys in cigarette and marijuana use as well as prescription drug abuse. The new government analysis finds 730,000 girls started smoking cigarettes in 2004, as compared with 560,000 boys.

National Drug Policy Director John Walters says parents should not hesitate to confront their male and female children about drugs, which can harm young people in numerous ways. The latest research, he points out, shows that marijuana, the most commonly used illegal drug among young people, “correlates with mental illness, depression, schizophrenia, thoughts of suicide” and many other problems.

“We know these substances make the lives of young people much more dangerous and, unfortunately, even cause some of them to lose their lives,” Walters says. And while, in the past, boys have had both higher and significantly higher rates of substance abuse than girls, parents today cannot take for granted that their daughters are any less at risk, since there are now more girls who are new users of substances than boys.

The US drug policy official observes that parental and community disapproval is key to preventing such risky behaviors in boys and girls. He says 30 years of experience has shown that, if that message of disapproval is not communicated, substance abuse among teens, like other diseases that are not confronted aggressively, will only get worse.

The only difference between substance abuse and other diseases that afflict young people, Walters notes, is that “this is also going to affect their behavior.” Research shows that youth who use alcohol, drugs, and cigarettes are going to have “increased failure in school,” he says, and they also may be involved in other kinds of self-destructive, other-destructive behavior.

“Drug use directly correlates to joining gangs, being involved in theft, bringing weapons to school,” to name a few, Walters adds. He says parents and others who care about young people need to be vocal and proactive in communicating anti-substance abuse messages and teaching youth about the harmful effects that using alcohol, drugs, and tobacco can have.

(This article courtesy of Agape Press.)

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