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Kids know about, but avoid drugs, poll shows

Published Oct. 18, 2005

Most fifth- and sixth-graders disapprove of drugs, but nearly a third expect to have tried alcoholic beverages by the time they reach high school, according to a national poll released Tuesday. The researchers found almost all children in the upper grades of elementary school are aware of illegal drugs, alcohol and cigarettes. Two out of three have heard of sniffing glue, paint or white-out. Most could describe the appearance of cocaine or "crack," and over a third knew what marijuana looks like.

Awareness did not indicate approval, though. Most of the young respondents expressed sharply negative attitudes toward drugs. The most common words the students used to describe the behavior of people on drugs were "weird," "crazy" and "stupid."

There was a greater acceptance of alcoholic beverages among the children.

About a third of the kids knew someone their own age who had tried beer, while fewer than a tenth knew peers who had tried illegal drugs. Only 3 percent said they had ever been offered a drug like marijuana. However, 11 percent of the total group (and 14 percent of the sixth-graders) said they have been offered beer or wine.

The attitude survey of kids 10 to 12 years old was conducted on behalf of the Kids for Change Drug Education Mission, a two-day conference promoting the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E) program developed by police and education officials in Los Angeles.

The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percent.