Blog: teens

Youth Justice News Roundup

We round up the latest news on youth justice reform and national public health.

Watch This Webinar: Improving Services for LGBT Youth

feet-349687_1920Reclaiming Futures is committed to the equitable treatment of troubled youth—nurturing each of them on a path toward health and prosperity, rather than incarceration. To do this, we must be able to identify and end the patterns of discrimination and victimization at play in our schools and our juvenile justice systems.

Why Schools Over-Discipline Children With Disabilities; News Roundup

Every week Reclaiming Futures rounds up the latest news on juvenile justice reform, adolescent substance abuse treatment, and teen mental health. 

Why Schools Over-Discipline Children With Disabilities (The Atlantic)
As the U.S. Department of Education celebrates the 25th Anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), the high rate at which special-needs students are disciplined raises questions about the current state of equal access to services like public education. Some researchers and advocates refer to this issue as "the discipline gap," and data from the Department of Education finds that the disparity increases when race is added.

2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health data available

Those interested in drug/alcohol/tobacco use statistics should head over to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to download the data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH).
For those less inclined to analyze the data, SAMSHA also released a report (PDF) summarizing the findings, which include:

  • Among youths aged 12 to 17, the current illicit drug use rate was similar in 2009 (10.0 percent) and 2010 (10.1 percent), but higher than the rate in 2008 (9.3 percent). Between 2002 and 2008, the rate declined from 11.6 to 9.3 percent.
  • The rate of current alcohol use among youths aged 12 to 17 was 13.6 percent in 2010, which was lower than the 2009 rate (14.7 percent). Youth binge and heavy drinking rates in 2010 (7.8 and 1.7 percent) were also lower than rates in 2009 (8.8 and 2.1 percent).
  • There were an estimated 10.0 million underage (aged 12 to 20) drinkers in 2010, including 6.5 million binge drinkers and 2.0 million heavy drinkers.
  • The rate of past month tobacco use among 12 to 17 year olds declined from 15.2 percent in 2002 to 10.7 percent in 2010, including a decline from 2009 (11.6 percent) to 2010.
  • Almost half (48.6 percent) of youths aged 12 to 17 reported in 2010 that it would be "fairly easy" or "very easy" for them to obtain marijuana if they wanted some. Approximately one in five reported it would be easy to get cocaine (19.0 percent). About one in seven (12.9 percent) indicated that LSD would be "fairly" or "very" easily available, and 11.6 percent reported easy availability for heroin. Between 2002 and 2010, there were declines in the perceived availability for all four drugs.

Advice to a parent with a teen struggling with drug addiction

I’ll never forget how my hands shook as I gripped my office phone that afternoon. My 16 year-old son called tell me he was a drug addict and that he needed help. Right now.
I must admit I did have suspicions he’d been involved in drugging. His behavior had changed. He was doing so poorly in school that he was on the verge of either failing or dropping out. He struggled with my newly blended family and the move to a new state. I thought everything would work its way out in his life, but the tenor of his voice told me this was something serious.
Even though I’m the parent or step-parent of seven boys, I was totally unprepared. I’d always wished for a book for the teen years to turn to when things go rough, much like my mom turned to her trusty Dr. Spock reference book. But, there isn’t anything like that to help parents navigate today’s minefields.
I flew out the door and was soon home, sitting in my living room, attempting to wrap my mind around the depth of his problems. The night before a drug dealer threatened him. This was serious. Turning to the Yellow Pages, I called several drug rehab facilities in my state, but found only one with an immediate opening. It was two hours away from home and my son sat quietly in the front seat. I felt I’d failed him. Who knows what he felt.
The intake counselor sat us down in a private office and began to do a drug inventory. As the list began to grow from marijuana use all the way down to cocaine and heroin, I shakily agreed to anything to help him get out of the death trap of drug addiction.
My situation wasn’t unusual.