Principal Leadership - April 2015 - (Page 14)

healthy schools, healthy students Substance Abuse in the Modern Age For students, recreational drug use may be largely dictated by perception Christine Cusatis F rom a budding propensity toward legalization of recreational marijuana to a thriving e-cigarette industry, U.S. drug regulation and prevention is being steered into a decidedly modern era. And while alcohol, cigarette, and illicit drug use is declining in U.S. middle and high schools- with data from 2014 indicating a significant decline in usage levels (Johnston et al., 2015)-inaccurate perceptions of safety may leave students vulnerable to new risks. Declines in Alcohol and Traditional Tobacco Use According to the University of Michigan's annual Monitoring the Future study, a national survey of students in U.S. middle and high schools, both alcohol and tobacco cigarette use in 2014 were at their lowest points since the study began in 1975 (Johnston et al., 2015). Data show a decline in the proportion of students reporting any alcohol use in the 12 months prior to the survey compared to previous years. Peer disapproval of binge drinking has been rising since the year 2000 among teens. Declines in availability may be another contributing factor to the drops in teen drinking. In recent years, there has been a fair decline in the proportion saying that alcohol is easy to obtain. Traditional cigarette smoking also reached historical lows among teens in 2014. Of the teens surveyed, 28 percent reported smoking traditional cigarettes in the prior 14 Principal Leadership | April 2015 month in 1997, the recent peak year, but that rate was down to 8 percent in 2014. As with alcohol, there has been a substantial reduction in the proportion of students who say tobacco cigarettes are easy to obtain, and this decline continued into 2014. Increasing disapproval of smoking also has accompanied the decline in use, as well as an increased perception that smoking tobacco cigarettes carries a "great risk" for the user. Perceptions of Marijuana and E-cigarettes After five years of increasing among teens, marijuana use actually declined slightly in 2014, with use in the prior 12 months falling from 26 to 24 percent. The study found that current daily or near-daily marijuana use-defined as use on 20 or more occasions in the prior 30 days-also declined some in 2014; nonetheless, it remains quite high. About one in every 17 high school seniors in 2014 (5.8 percent) is a current daily or near-daily marijuana user, which is down slightly from 6.5 percent in 2013. These findings are of particular interest-and perhaps surprising- considering that Alaska, Colorado, and Washington state have legalized recreational marijuana, with additional states likely to follow. However, the study also found that more adolescents than ever believe that regular marijuana use is not harmful to the user, and fewer personally disapprove of its use. Reported availability, on the other hand, is down significantly since 2013, which may help to explain the modest decline in use in 2014. In 2014, more teens used e-cigarettes than traditional cigarettes or any other tobacco product-the first time a U.S. national study has shown that teen use of e-cigarettes surpasses that of tobacco cigarettes (Johnston et al., 2015). E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices with a heating element. They produce an aerosol, or vapor, that users inhale. Typically, this vapor contains nicotine, although the specific contents of the vapor are proprietary and are not regulated. The liquid that is vaporized in e-cigarettes comes in hundreds of flavors. Some fear that flavors such as bubble gum and milk chocolate cream are attractive to younger teens. The survey asked students whether they had used an e-cigarette or a tobacco cigarette in the past 30 days. More than twice as many eighth- and tenth-graders reported using e-cigarettes as reported using tobacco cigarettes. Specifically, 9 percent of eighth-graders reported using an e-cigarette in the past 30 days, while only 4 percent reported using a tobacco cigarette. In 10th grade, 16 percent reported using an e-cigarette and 7 percent reported using a tobacco cigarette. Among 12th-graders, 17 percent reported e-cigarette use and 14 percent reported use of a tobacco cigarette. Some fear that e-cigarettes may serve as a point of entry into the

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Principal Leadership - April 2015

Solution Tree
From the Editor
Bulletin Board
Cases in Point
Pepperdine University
Healthy Schools, Healthy Students
Advocates for Acceptance
ASCD
Creating a Socially Inclusive School
Out of the Darkness: Making Student Mental Health a Priority
Combating Cyberbullying
How Do You Evaluate Leadership?
The Common Core and School Improvement
Salsbury Industries
Discussion Guide: The Common Core and School Improvement
Leading in Turbulent Times
Need a Little TLC?
The Principal Story by Nomadic Pictures
Growing Your STEMs
Digital Leader
Instructional Leader
Breaking Ranks in Practice

Principal Leadership - April 2015

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