Know! Your Child's Risk

Statistics You Should Know!

A recent survey shows that prevention efforts, including those of Know! and other programs that can be found on the DFAA web site, are producing positive results. Yet young people continue to be exposed to alcohol, tobacco and other drugs at an alarmingly early age.

Nearly 23% of 8th grade students in the state of Ohio report having smoked cigarettes, 30% report having consumed beer and 13% report having smoked marijuana, all within the past year. (Ohio PRIDE Survey, Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services. 2002).

Significant Use by Central Ohio 8th Graders

Usage of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs is still relatively low among 6th and 7th graders. However, by the time students reach 8th grade, a significant number of them have begun experimenting with these substances. The 2006 Primary Prevention Awareness, Attitude and Use Survey (PPAAUS) conducted by The Safe and Drug-Free Schools Consortium, revealed that:

  • The average age of first use of alcohol and tobacco is 11;
  • 1% of sixth graders and 5% of seventh and eighth graders drink regularly (at least once a month);
  • 2% of those surveyed smoke tobacco at least once a month;
  • 0.4% of sixth graders and 1% of seventh and eighth graders smoke tobacco daily;
  • The average age of first use of marijuana is 12; and
  • 0.6% of sixth graders and 4% of seventh and eighth graders smoke marijuana once a month or more.
For more information on the PPAAUS survey, visit the Educational Council web site.

Substance Use Places Children at Risk

Consider the following facts from the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information about why use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs can place children at risk for problems later in life:

  • The younger someone starts to use alcohol, tobacco and drugs, the more likely he or she is to become addicted and develop problems associated with such use.
  • Young people who use alcohol and drugs also are more likely to become victims or perpetrators of violence, engage in unplanned and unprotected sex, experience school failure, and be seriously injured from driving or engaging in other risky behavior while impaired.
  • Young people who use tobacco are more likely than others to drink heavily later or use illegal drugs. If we can successfully keep our young people from smoking, we may help prevent other drug use.
The statistics are startling - so much so that it may be tempting for parents to deny them: "My child would never do anything so risky at that age." But that belief is risky in and of itself. Studies show that many more teens report being offered and/or using these substances than their parents realize or are willing to believe.  

For example, when polled, the number of parents who thought their children had tried marijuana was only about 20%. This statistic represented only one-half the number of teens who said they had actually tried the drug (2004 Partnership Attitude Tracking Study. Partnership for a Drug-Free America).

Know! Substances and Their Risks

Young people are being exposed to alcohol, tobacco and other drugs at an alarmingly early age. Accepting this as an indisputable fact is the first step in keeping our children substance-free.
Know! encourages parents to become familiar with all the information that students are hearing and learning about substances, and to communicate with them about the dangers and consequences of using those substances.

Please visit the National Institute on Drug Abuse for more information on alcohol, tobacco, and other individual drugs.