Tuesday, November 22, 2011

What are parents afraid could happen to their kids?

A University of Michigan survey, released in August 2011, showed a remarkable difference among parents of different racial or ethnic backgrounds about what they think threatens the health of their children.

Top 10 health concerns for children in 2011 by race/ethnicity:

1. Drug abuse, 44%
2. Childhood obesity, 44%
3. Smoking and tobacco use, 36%
4. Gun related injuries, 36%
5. School violence, 35%
6. Unsafe neighborhoods, 34%
7. Alcohol abuse, 33%
8. Teen pregnancy, 33%
9. Sexually transmitted infections, 31%
10. Sexting, 31%

1. Drug abuse, 49%
2. Teen pregnancy, 44%
3. Childhood obesity, 44%
4. Child abuse and neglect, 38%
5. Stress, 38%
6. Driving accidents, 37%
7. Bullying, 37%
8. Smoking and tobacco use, 35%
9. Internet safety, 34%
10. Sexually transmitted infections, 33%

1. Childhood obesity, 30%
2. Drug abuse, 28%
3. Smoking and tobacco use, 22%
4. Internet safety, 21%
5. Bullying, 21%
6. Teen pregnancy, 19%
7. Stress, 18%
8. Alcohol abuse, 17%
9. Sexting, 16%
10. Driving accidents, 16%

First, Black and Hispanic parents have much greater fear for their kids than white parents. The percentage of Black and Hispanic parents who fear the 10th ranked danger for their kids is greater than the percentage of white parents who fear the Number One danger threatens their kids. The 4th ranked danger of white parents, Internet safety, is not on the list for Black parents. Similarly, the highly ranked dangers feared by Black parents -- 4. Gun related injuries, 36%, 5. School violence, 35%, 6. Unsafe neighborhoods, 34% -- are not on the top 10 list for white parents.

Drug abuse however tops the list -- 49% for Hispanic parents, 44% for Black parents, and 28% for White parents. How should we interpret these fears when drug use data shows that white kids use drugs at higher rates than black kids? Matthew Davis, M.D., the director of the poll, begins his analysis by talking about increased use of marijuana. Drug policy reformers should consider the implications of this claim for their work. Drug policy reform in the early 1970s, which seemed a shoo-in after the Shafer Commission reports in 1972 and 1973, and the endorsement of marijuana decriminalization by President Jimmy Carter in 1977, vanished in the 1980 election.

The White House Drug Czar reports the data this way:
According to a recent survey, African American parents now consider youth drug use as the top concern for young people, ranking higher than gun related crimes, school violence, or bullying. We look forward continuing leading the Federal government’s collaborations with the African American community to reducing disparities and ensure that we can prevent drug use before it starts and work together to break the cycle of drug use and crime.

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