Report: Dads Major Drug Factor

Report: Dads Major Drug Factor
Posted by FoM on August 30, 1999 at 09:37:44 PT
Source: CBS News
(CBS) Teen-agers who don't get along with their fathers in two-parent families are more likely to smoke, drink and use drugs than those raised by single mothers, according to a new survey that examines how different family types affect youth substance abuse. 
The survey, by the private National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, focused on factors that help keep kids off drugs, reports CBS News Correspondent Bob Fuss. Former Health, Education and Welfare Secretary Joseph Califano told CBS Radio News the key factor they identified was parents. "This should be a wakeup call for dads across America," he said. "Every father should look in the mirror and ask: 'How often do I eat meals with my children? Take them to religious services? Help them with their homework?'" The survey found a much higher risk for teens who don't feel they can talk to their fathers, and that a lot of teens say their dads aren't very involved in their lives. Children raised by their mothers alone were 30 percent more likely to use drugs than those living in supportive two-parent homes. But those with two parents who have poor relationships with their fathers have a 68 percent greater risk, said the report. In the survey of 1,000 parentsand 2,000 youths aged 12 to 17, more than twice as many teens said they found it easier to talk to their mothers than their fathers about drugs. More than 70 percent said they had very good or excellent relationships with their mothers, but only 58 percent said they got along as well with their fathers. Mothers influence their children's important decisions three times as often as fathers and are more likely to have private talks about drugs, the study found. Speaking to children about drugs should start early because "the opportunity for parents to impact their teen's thinking about illegal drugs diminishes as the teen gets older," the survey's authors said. They found that 34 percent of 12-year-olds reported excellent relationships with their parents, but that number plummeted to just 14 percent by the time the children turned 17. "Parent power may be the greatest underutilized resource in our nation's battle to give our children the will and skills to say no to drugs," said Califano. Confirming recent studies that overall youth substance abuse has leveled off, the survey found that 40 percent of teens said the drug situation at school is getting worse, down from 55 percent in 1998. And more teens, 60 percent, said they don't expect to use a drug in the future, an increase of 9 percentage points since 1998. Parents were more pessimistic, with 45 percent thinking their children will someday use drugs. Califano said this "parental resignation often reflects their own drug-using behavior" and that 58 percent of those parents who had tried marijuana themselves thought their kids would do the same. The study also found that while the teen-agers said facing drugs was their most important problem, the parents ranked drugs second, after the social pressure of "fitting in" with their peers. The survey also found:teens who reported their fathers have more than two drinks a day have a 71 percent greater risk of substance abuse; nearly 90 percent of teens said they felt safe in school; more than half said they attended a school where drugs were used and 20 percent said that if they wanted to buy marijuana they could get it in less than a half-hour; almost half of teens who had never used marijuana credited their parents with their decision. NEW YORKMonday, August 30,1999 - 10:35 AM ET Copyright 1999 CBS Worldwide Inc. 
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