(CNSNews.com) - Nearly two out of every three high school students and more than one out of every four middle school students in America will be exposed to drug use when they return to class this fall, according to a study released Thursday by the Center for Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University.
"This summer and fall, 62 percent of high schoolers -- some 10.6 million -- and 28 percent of middle schoolers -- some 2.4 million -- will go to schools where drugs are used, kept or sold," said Joseph A. Califano, Jr., chairman and president of CASA.
"We are failing in our fiduciary responsibility to provide these children a drug-free educational environment and, in many cases, the result will be to deny them a drug-free childhood," Califano added.
Califano, a former U.S. secretary of Health, Education and Welfare during the administration of President Jimmy Carter, urged more involvement on the part of parents and public officials to offset the exposure of children to the drug culture.
"It's time for parents to shout, 'We're mad as hell and we're not going to take this anymore,' and for education officials in Washington and the states, cities and counties to mount the same campaign to get drugs out of our schools as they are mounting to increase test scores," Califano said.
He expressed optimism that parents would be able to make a difference. "In this survey, the message is loud and clear: Parents, you cannot outsource your role to law enforcement," said Califano.
"The good news is that strong, positive family relationships are a powerful deterrent to teen smoking, drinking and drug use. This year's survey findings also indicate that teen behavior is more strongly linked to teen perceptions of immorality, parental disapproval and adverse health consequences than to concerns about legal restrictions or illegality," he added.
Jim Mhoon, program director for parenting ministries for Focus on the Family, echoed Califano's remarks when contacted by Cybercast News Service. "Go parents!" he said.
"Too often parents are told they don't matter, but they do matter," Mhoon told Cybercast News Service. "I don't know how individual parents can change drug use in a whole school. That is a cultural issue, but they can sure make a difference on their own children."
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