Student Well-Being

Health Update

February 02, 2000 4 min read

Drug Use More Prevalent Among Rural Teenagers, Study Warns: Contrary to the popular image, teenagers in rural and small-town America are much more likely than their urban peers to have used drugs, concludes a study released last week.

The report, “No Place to Hide,” by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, says that 8th graders in rural areas are 104 percent more likely than those in big cities to pop amphetamines, and 50 percent more likely to smoke or sniff cocaine.

The study also found that 8th graders living in rural areas were 83 percent more likely to use crack cocaine, 34 percent more likely to smoke marijuana, and 29 percent more likely to drink alcohol.

“As we begin the 21st century in America, there is no place to hide from the problem of substance abuse and addiction,” said Joseph A. Califano Jr., the president of the New York City-based research group.

The rate of use for 10th graders in rural areas exceeded that of sophomores in large urban areas for every drug except marijuana and the so-called designer drug Ecstasy, according to the study. High school seniors in rural areas used more powdered cocaine, crack, amphetamines, inhalants, and alcohol than 12th graders in large urban areas.

Mr. Califano, a former U.S. secretary of health, education, and welfare, called on the Clinton administration and Congress to provide money to fight drugs in rural areas and small and midsize cities that would match the $1.6 billion aid plan the administration has proposed to help with Colombia’s drug war.

The study is based on analyses of previously unreleased substance-abuse research, state statistics and studies, and interviews with local law-enforcement officials. Read the report, No Place To Hide. (Requires Adobe’s Acrobat Reader.)

Mass Hysteria?: In November 1998, a Tennessee high school temporarily closed after a number of students and teachers fell ill from symptoms attributed to toxic fumes. An exhaustive investigation found nothing. But an article in the Jan. 13 issue of The NewEngland Journal of Medicine says the culprit may have been mass hysteria.

“There was no toxic exposure that would have explained the overall outbreak,” said Dr. Timothy F. Jones, an epidemiologist with the Tennessee health department and the lead author.

The outbreak at 1,800-student Warren County High School in McMinnville began after a teacher noticed a gasoline-like smell in her classroom. Shortly thereafter, she began experiencing headache, nausea, shortness of breath, and dizziness. Similar symptoms developed in a number of her students.

As her classroom was evacuated, more students reported symptoms, and a schoolwide alarm was sounded. Classes were canceled, and 100 people went to the local hospital emergency room, where they reported symptoms believed to be associated with exposure at the school. When Warren County High reopened five days later, students again reported symptoms, and the school was evacuated and closed.

Following that closing, an extensive environmental and epidemiological investigation took place that included the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the state health department, and local emergency personnel.

While no medical or environmental cause could be identified, the researchers writing in the Journal of Medicine noted that the illness had the characteristics of mass hysteria.

“There was a wide variety of symptoms which didn’t fit with a known medical cause,” Dr. Jones said in an interview. And, he noted, those who saw another ill person during the outbreak or knew a classmate who had been taken ill were more likely to become sick themselves.

Doctors and others may be reluctant to pronounce such an outbreak as mass hysteria because the interpretation is that those involved “made this up,” Dr. Jones said. But such a diagnosis is not meant as a criticism. “This is an example of the powerful impact environment can have on you,” he said.

Anorexia: The incidence of the eating disorder anorexia continues to increase in young women, according to a recent study from the Mayo Clinic.

Researchers updated a 50-year study in the diagnosis of the disorder in residents of Rochester, Minn., where the clinic is located.

Mayo Clinic researchers had previously reported on 50-year trends in the incidence of anorexia in Rochester dating to 1935. Looking at medical records—those of 2,806 mostly female patients ages 10 to 57—they found that the incidence of the disorder in women was stable, except for 15- to 24-year-olds. The overall rate, however—again excluding the young women—dropped during the period 1985 to 1989 from its peak between 1980 and 1984.

But for the group considered most vulnerable to societal and psychological pressures, 15- to 24-year-olds, anorexia continued its steady rise from the 1930s during 1985 to 1989, the most recent period studied. A major reason is “the cultural ethos to be thin,” the researchers write.

—Adrienne D. Coles

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the February 02, 2000 edition of Education Week as Health Update


Jobs The EdWeek Top School Jobs Virtual Career Fair
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Mathematics Webinar
Engaging Young Students to Accelerate Math Learning
Join learning scientists and inspiring district leaders, for a timely panel discussion addressing a school district’s approach to doubling and tripling Math gains during Covid. What started as a goal to address learning gaps in
Content provided by Age of Learning & Digital Promise, Harlingen CISD
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Curriculum Webinar
How to Power Your Curriculum With Digital Books
Register for this can’t miss session looking at best practices for utilizing digital books to support their curriculum.
Content provided by OverDrive

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Well-Being Sponsor
Breathe Easier About In-Person Learning
Blueair’s Guide To Using Relief Funding For Cleaner Air 
Content provided by Blueair
Student Well-Being What the Research Says Child Abuse Cases Got More Severe During COVID-19. Could Teachers Have Prevented It?
A study finds that the severity of identified child abuse cases grew during the pandemic, even as reports of abuse declined.
3 min read
Image of a sad girl in the shadows
iStock/Getty Images Plus
Student Well-Being The Pandemic Brought Universal Free School Meals. Will They Stay?
Relaxed rules during the COVID-19 pandemic have allowed schools to serve universal free meals. Some in Congress want to make that permanent.
8 min read
Kejuan Turner, 8, eats a burger from a free bagged lunch provided by the Jefferson County School District on the back of his mother's truck with his brother, Kendrell, 9, outside their home in Fayette, Miss.
Kejuan Turner, 8, eats a burger from a free bagged lunch provided by the Jefferson County school district on the back of his mother's truck with his brother, Kendrell, 9, outside their home in Fayette, Miss., in March.
Leah Willingham/AP
Student Well-Being What the Research Says Getting Face Time With Students May Be More Important Than You Think
There's a good reason for teachers and students to keep their cameras on in class, a new neuroscience study suggests.
3 min read
Mashea Ashton, principal and founder of Digital Pioneers Academy, drops in to different Zoom classes to see how students and teachers are doing.
Mashea Ashton, the principal and founder of Digital Pioneers Academy, drops in on a Zoom class. New research shows ways teachers can build better bonds with students online.
Jaclyn Borowski/Education Week