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Disturbing Dropout Trends
There’s almost no dispute that dropping out of school before graduation is not a good bet for the average teenager. For young black males its comprehensively devastating to their quality of life.
A federal report finds youth in the 12th grade age range (ages 16 to 18) who have dropped out of school prior to graduating are more likely than their counterparts to be current users of cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana and other illicit drugs. The report comes from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Some of the findings and the implications are disturbing for parents.
The report identified dropouts in the 16-18 age group are more than twice as likely to be current smokers as youth continuing with their education (56.8 percent versus 22.4 percent).
“Dropouts are at increased risk of substance abuse, which is particularly troubling given that they are also at greater risk of poverty, not having health insurance, and other health problems. We have to do everything we can to keep youth in school so they can go on to lead healthy, productive lives, free from substance abuse,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde.
Data from the report also indicated major differences between the levels of illicit drug use between dropouts and those remaining in school. Overall current illicit drug use among dropouts was considerably higher than for those in school, 31.4% versus 18.2%. And when it comes to alcohol consumption, the negative trend is similar.
Dropouts had higher overall levels of current alcohol use than students,41.6% versus 35.3% and higher rates of current binge drinking 32.3% versus 23.8%. Binge drinking is defined as drinking five or more drinks on the same occasion on at least one day in the past 30 days.
This has major implications for young African American males who disproportionately do not graduate high school in urban centers like Detroit, Chicago, and Atlanta compared to their white counterparts. It reinforces that pro-education interventions and family support are key to ensuring young black males remain in school through graduation.
The study, Substance Use Among 12th Grade Aged Youths by Dropout Status, was based on data drawn from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). The full report is here.