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What Works: Schools Without Drugs   By:

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What Works


United States Department of Education William J. Bennett, Secretary 1986



August 4, 1986

Drug and alcohol abuse touches all Americans in one form or another, but it is our children who are most vulnerable to its influence. As parents and teachers, we need to educate ourselves about the dangers of drugs so that we can then teach our children. And we must go further still by convincing them that drugs are morally wrong.

Now, as more and more individuals and groups are speaking out, young people are finding it easier to say no to drugs. Encouraged by a growing public outcry and their own strength of conviction, students are forming peer support groups in opposition to drug use. It has been encouraging to see how willingly young people take healthy attitudes and ideas to heart when they are exposed to an environment that fosters those values.

Outside the home, the school is the most influential environment for our children. This means that schools must protect children from the presence of drugs, and nurture values that help them reject drugs.

Schools Without Drugs provides the kind of practical knowledge parents, educators, students and communities can use to keep their schools drug free. Only if our schools are free from drugs can we protect our children and insure that they can get on with the enterprise of learning.

[Illustration: Signature of Nancy Reagan]


" It is a sad and sobering reality that trying drugs is no longer the exception among high school students. It is the norm. "

California Attorney General John Van De Kemp Los Angeles Times , April 30, 1986

When 13 to 18 year olds were asked to name the biggest problems facing young people today, drugs led their list. The proportion of teens with this perception has risen steadily in recent years. No other issue approaches this level of concern.

Four out of five teens believe current laws against both the sale and the use of drugs (including marijuana) are not strict enough.

The Gallup Youth Surveys, 1985 and 1986

" Policy is useless without action! Drugs do not have to be tolerated on our school campuses. Policy to that effect is almost universally on the books. Drugs remain on campus because consistent, equitable and committed enforcement is lacking. "

Bill Rudolph, Principal, Northside High School, Atlanta, Georgia

Testimony submitted to the U.S. Senate Committee on Special Investigations, July 1984

"... We have a right to be protected from drugs. "

Cicely Senior, a seventh grader, McFarland Junior High, Washington, D.C.

William J. Bennett

Secretary of Education

The foremost responsibility of any society is to nurture and protect its children. In America today, the most serious threat to the health and well being of our children is drug use.

For the past year and a half, I have had the privilege of teaching our children in the classrooms of this country. I have met some outstanding teachers and administrators and many wonderful children. I have taken time during these visits to discuss the problem of drug use with educators and with police officers working in drug enforcement across the country. Their experience confirms the information reported in major national studies: drug use by children is at alarming levels. Use of some of the most harmful drugs is increasing. Even more troubling is the fact that children are using drugs at younger ages. Students today identify drugs as a major problem among their schoolmates as early as the fourth, fifth, and sixth grades.

Drug use impairs memory, alertness, and achievement. Drugs erode the capacity of students to perform in school, to think and act responsibly. The consequences of using drugs can last a lifetime... Continue reading book >>

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