Twenty-seven percent of public school students ages 12 to 17 say that their schools have gangs and that drugs are used, kept, or sold on school grounds, according to a survey administered by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, based at Columbia University.
Students who attended schools where they reported gang activity and drug use were more likely to have used tobacco, alcohol, or marijuana themselves, the report says. For example, 4 percent of teenagers at schools that reported no drug or gang activity said they had used marijuana, compared with 21 percent of youths at schools where such problems were reported.
The nationally representative survey of 1,055 teenagers and 456 parents was administered online. Another 1,000 teenagers were surveyed by phone.
The group’s founder and chairman, Joseph A. Califano Jr., who was U.S. secretary of health, education, and welfare from 1977 to 1979, called the combination of gangs and drugs in schools “a malignant cancer that must be eliminated” if public education is to improve.
A version of this article appeared in the August 25, 2010 edition of Education Week as Drug Abuse