CASA Will Not Tolerate Infestation

Today the Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, whose anti-drug hysteria sometimes surpasses the federal government's (this is one of those times), announced that "eleven million high school students (80 percent) and five million middle school students (44 percent) attend drug-infested schools." CASA President Joseph Califano elaborates on these findings, which are based on CASA's National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse:

This fall more than 16 million teens will return to middle and high schools where drug dealing, possession, use and students high on alcohol or drugs are part of the fabric of their school. Too many of our nation's high and middle schools have become marijuana marts and pill palaces. Parents should wake up to this reality and realize more likely than not, your teen is going to school each day in a building where drug use, sale and possession is as much a part of the curriculum as math or English and do something about it. For many of our middle and high school students, school days have become school daze.

Califano's over-the-top warnings are not only unverifiable but essentially meaningless. How much drug use must occur before it becomes "part of the fabric" at a school? How many transactions does it take for a school to become a "marijuana mart" or a "pill palace"? When does drug use become "as much a part of the curriculum as math or English"? Is the threshold higher for students taking A.P. math or honors English?

The one thing CASA claims to have quantified, drug "infestation," is given a ridiculously broad definition. If a respondent "personally witnessed illegal drug use, illegal drug dealing, illegal drug possession, students drunk and/or students high on the grounds of their school," his school qualifies as "drug-infested." By this logic, when one of my cats brought in a lizard the other day, my house was "lizard-infested."

Since the bar was set so low, it's hardly surprising that 80 percent of the high schools attended by respondents qualified. In fact, since the schools were not identified, the percentage might be even higher. If CASA happened to survey two kids who attended the same school, it could qualify as "drug-infested" based on one student's responses and "drug-free" based on the other's. With a big enough sample, I'd wager, something like 100 percent of high schools would turn out to be "drug-infested" according to CASA's criterion.

CASA nevertheless offers its trademark scary correlations:

Compared to teens at drug-free schools, those at drug-infested schools are:

· 16 times likelier to use an illegal drug other than marijuana or prescription drugs;

· 15 times likelier to abuse prescription drugs;

· six times likelier to get drunk at least monthly;

· five times likelier to use marijuana;

· four times likelier to smoke cigarettes;

· four times likelier to be able to buy marijuana within a day; and

· nearly six times likelier to be able to buy marijuana within an hour.

So kids who witness drug use are more likely to use drugs. Maybe that's because drug use is omnipresent, unavoidable in a school where intoxication is "part of the fabric." Or maybe it's because kids who use drugs are more likely to witness drug use.

I'm not saying drug use by teenagers is not cause for concern. Nor am I denying that some teenagers run into serious trouble with drugs. But in the vast majority of cases, adolescent experimentation with drugs does not result in any significant harm (provided the police do not get involved). Given that 80 percent (or more) of America's high schools are "drug-infested," the kids seem to be doing pretty well.

That is a point CASA is desperate to ignore, conceal, or deny. Consider this "striking finding" that CASA cites in its press release:

Compared to their teen using marijuana, 48 percent of parents would be more bothered if their teen had sex, 82 percent would be more bothered if their teen drove a car while intoxicated and 52 percent would be more bothered if their teen shoplifted.

From the context, it's pretty clear CASA disapproves of these parents' priorities. But by what crazy, mixed-up set of moral or prudential principles is driving drunk or stealing not more worrisome than taking a puff off a joint?

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  • ||

    Wow, I wonder what the "infestation" levels are for Colleges

  • ||

    If you think that's scary you should hear what goes on at band camp.

  • ||

    "eleven million high school students (80 percent) ... attend drug-infested schools."

    I wonder where the other 20% are?

  • ||

    Utah.

  • ||

    My high school graduation ceremony was pregnancy-infested.

  • ||

    Let's see...

    - Shoplifting is a crime because it's not victimless. No problem here...
    - Sex isn't a crime provided informed consent has occurred. (However, applying the same looseness of definition of the "drug-infested" metric most schools are, I suspect, sex-infested as well.)
    - Drunk driving shouldn't be a crime as there's no vicitm. When the drunk has actually hit something or someone is there a vicitim, at which point, only then should it be crime. (If you think that that's weird, consider that it's not a crime to carry a loaded gun. It's only a crime if something bad happens when the gun is subsequently fired. Or, more to the point, how is a driver who runs into and kills a minivan full of soccer kids less a criminal simply because they're sober?)

    I personally think that much of our perceptions about drugs, and pot in particular, have been re-shaped in recent times by MADD without regard for personal responsibility. I doubt that it's a conincidence that they are comfortable employing the same games with statistics, defining "drug-infested" or "alcohol-related" in such a way as to sensationalize their studies. While this is a textbook case of the third and worst kind of liar, the statistician, it's unfortunate that many who would be moved by the study findings won't bother to find out what "drug-infested" actually means.

  • Nephilium||

    So... my Catholic High School was:

    1) Drug infested
    2) Alcohol infested
    3) Pregnancy infested
    4) Lesbian nun infested
    5) Cow infested
    6) Cricket infested
    7) Republican teacher infested
    8) Democrat teacher infested
    9) DARE infested

    I have no idea how I learned anything... or graduated for that matter.

    Nephilium

  • ||

    "What are you people? On dope?"

  • Chavez is a thug||

    With the bar as low as these bozoes set it the only surprising thing is that 100% did not qualify as "drug-infested". It always seems that these "Wars on [insert problem]" always attract the most hysterical chicken-littles to act as propaganda minister.

  • Spiccoli||

    "I know this is history. I saw the globe."

  • ||

    All this drug infestation, with all the drug education the kids are getting. It just doesn't make sense.....Oh wait....yes it does.

  • ||

    four times likelier to be able to buy marijuana within a day; and
    · nearly six times likelier to be able to buy marijuana within an hour.



    So... kids are more likely to get pot in an hour that in a day? This makes no sense.


    82 percent would be more bothered if their teen drove a car while intoxicated

    So there are 18% of parents that think it's more dangerous to smoke a doober and watch Aqua Teen than it is to take an inexperienced driver, get them drunk illegally, and put them behind the wheel of a motor vehicle.

    The drug warriors really have twisted some minds out there.

  • adrian||

    i thought thats why they called it 'high' school?

  • LibertyPlease||

    "...there a vicitim, at which point, only then should it be crime."

    Pi Guy, I couldn't agree more. Our protectors and their bed-wetting constituent sheep criminalize behaviors, not crime. Now that law enforcement is (often violently) enforcing behaviors, they are just one more agressor to placate or avoid, rather than the public servants they should be.

  • ||

    The latest study shows that 97.6% of all high school students who use drugs tried colas before using drugs!! The correlation is clear, people!! We must ban all colas from the planet else our wee children are to be hopped up on goofballs and Mary Jane for teh rest of their lives!!!

  • ||

    Wow, then my high school would have made their heads implode. A friend of mine was once asked to carry around this kids back pack for a while until after school. After I asked her why that was, and she said she didn't ask, we looked in it and it was filled with sweet sweet grass. FILLED. That one backpack alone would have been enough for 100 high schools to qualify as drug-infected by CASA's standards.

  • ||

    So should you change your name to Reinmule.

  • ||

    Well Duh! Why do you think they're called "high" schools?

  • Chavez is a thug||

    "From the context, it's pretty clear CASA disapproves of these parents' priorities. But by what crazy, mixed-up set of moral or prudential principles is driving drunk or stealing not more worrisome than taking a puff off a joint"


    Drug-experimentation is, frankly, just a normal part of growing up for a huge segment of society. When I was in high school, I didn't know of anyone I hung out with that didn't smoke dope. My best friend even had an elaborate set-up that involved sodium lamps and sprinklers on a timer to grow marijuana in his basement. I remember being proud of helping him build it because it worked so well. All of my "druggie" friends turned out fine. Sure, some of them still smoke marijuana, but as adults that should be their choice.
    The hysteria over this issue reminds me of the misplaced panic over satan worship in the eighties. And the more these idiots jabber on and on about how horrible puffing a joint is, the more kids want to experiment to find out what all the fuss is about.

  • ||

    "Pi Guy, I couldn't agree more. Our protectors and their bed-wetting constituent sheep criminalize behaviors, not crime. Now that law enforcement is (often violently) enforcing behaviors, they are just one more agressor to placate or avoid, rather than the public servants they should be."

    Are you saying we've become Iran?

  • ||

    So should you change your name to Reinmule.

    Haha, no. I wasn't carrying the backpack, though yes, it was full of dried grass.

  • LibertyPlease||

    "Are you saying we've become Iran?"

    We are polar opposites, obviously. We worship the One True God, they unwittingly worship a False God.

  • ||

    "CASA Will Not Tolerate Infestation"

    I thought this would have been about bed bugs.

  • ||

    Mi CASA kicks in the doors to su casa.

  • ||

    I wonder where the other 20% are?
    joe | August 16, 2007, 2:55pm | #

    Utah.


    And southern Idaho (aka Salt Lake City North).

  • ||

    Anyone who talks about "marijuana marts" and "pill palaces" has got to be stoned. There was a time when Joe Califano was a smart man. Maybe dope does make you dumb.

  • ||

    Is the threshold higher for students taking A.P. math or honors English?

    Now that's funny.

    Odd that CASA seems to be upset about teens drinking until they climb behind the wheel. Then it's not so bad. Well not as bad as smoking pot anyway.

  • Russ 2000||

    "eleven million high school students (80 percent) and five million middle school students (44 percent) attend drug-infested schools."

    Then let 'em stay home if they want.

  • ||

    Maybe dope does make you dumb.

    Maybe getting in other people's business makes you dumb...

  • Gene Berkman||

    Actually there is a drug problem in schools. The schools are heavily promoting Ritalin and similar drugs, which are creating millions of drug dependent children.

  • ||

    you think all the drug free schools are in Utah?
    I went to high school in Utah, right in the middle of happy valley. There was marijuana everywhere. The youth of Utah belong to a counter-culture that came about because all their parents hold uniform, strict beliefs. When all the kids in your school are rebelling against the exact same force, it makes the movement stronger.
    I think I was high pretty much my entire high school career.
    Incidentally, I am now a market analyst and a contributing member of society.

  • ||

    When I was in high school, my Dad made me sit in the barn and smoke a whole ounce of weed at one sitting, and oh boy did I turn green. I tell ya ... no wait ... that was cigarettes ... and it was my neighbor, not me ... what am I talking about? Oh yeah ... high school! Mmmm ... donuts ...

    Incidentally, now I run a donut shop and am a contributing member of society.

  • Inattentive graduate||

    Isn't that why it's called stoned school?

  • SIV||

    I've been driving the past 11 hours so I've read nothing.... a related observation via the radio:

    Office of National Drug Control Policy had a PSA warning parents to check their kids MP3 players for pro marijuana podcasts.

  • ||

    Hits head with Vans loafer, smack, smack, smack.

    Talking to other stoner dude on the phone.

    "Did you hear that? That was my skull, I'm sooo wasted."

  • ||

    I love how they based it on reports from students. I went to undergrad at UT Austin, a school with a well-deserved reputation as a party place. In fact, when I was there, we were named top party school by Playboy. That was '83 or so. I, however, was a very serious student and never saw so much as a stem or seed of pot or a line of coke the whole time I was there. So, my reports of the school would be entirely innocent.

    I went to law school at Baylor, a school operated by Southern Baptists and so strict they didn't permit dances on campus. I had a good friend who put himself through school by dealing. (Not to me, by the way. I have to date never tried any illegal drugs. I'm terribly sorry about that.) Anyway, my reports of Baylor would be that it was a den of iniquity and decadence, just because I knew a lot of overstressed law and grad students who worked off the tension by chemical means. Again, not typical and a good illustration of the dangers of drawing conclusions from self-reports.

  • LarryA||

    I wonder where the other 20% are?

    Home school.

    If you think that that's weird, consider that it's not a crime to carry a loaded gun.

    It is at school. Just talking about firearms will get you booted faster than dealing drugs.

    That was '83 or so. I, however, was a very serious student and never saw so much as a stem or seed of pot or a line of coke the whole time I was there. So, my reports of the school would be entirely innocent.

    My reports wouldn't. My high school experience was '61-'65, and I never saw anything either. But had a researcher asked even I would never have been nerd enough to admit I didn't know where the action was.

    I would suspect that today's DARE-saturated high school students might not tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth either. Wouldn't want to send the wrong message on the War on Drugs.

  • LibertyPlease||

    Let's just jump to the end and declare War-On-Everyone-Not-On-The-State-Payroll.

  • ||

    Shrill people should not be allowed to use alliteration.

  • LibertyPlease||

    Are you suggesting a War on Words?

  • SteveInClearwater||

    "...Compared to teens at drug-free schools.."

    SH: lol

    SIDE NOTE...My three kids (now aged 19, 21 and 24) all graduated HIGH school in Logan UT - home os Utah St U and report that scoring weed is far easier than it was for me in Dallas in 1978.

    Okay...it was really a tie in that none of us had much problem.

    My 19 year old daughter got me severely baked last year when I visited here in Salt Lake City. Gotta love those Utah Family Values

  • JT Barrie||

    Maybe that's why the Portland School Board banned military recruiters: the schools were "military recruiter infested". I'm glad that someone else has discovered the lack of measurable standards involved in the laws and suppositions. Can anyone tell me what levels of "drug abuse" is necessary to ban a drug? Is it measured in levels of violence among users? Is it measured in trips to the ER among users? How does the DEA determine these levels? Does the DEA even bother with verification? Why won't they release this data to people = like myself - who request such standards and results in writing through their congressional representative? Curious people want to know.

  • LarryA||

    Can anyone tell me what levels of "drug abuse" is necessary to ban a drug?

    1. It makes you feel good.
    2. It isn't alcohol.
    3. It isn't tobacco. (But we're working on that.)

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