Teens Who Use Drugs Are Less Likely to Get in Fights

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Pete Guither at DrugWarRant points out another amusing irony contained in ONDCP's new report Teens, Drugs, and Violence. The report emphasizes the connection between teen drug use and violence with this statistic:
Nearly one in six teens (17%) who got into serious fights at school or work in the past year report using drugs;
Always skeptical, Pete used his research skills to put these numbers in perspective:
…if you look at the 2007 Monitoring the Future report, you see that the percentages of any teens who used drugs in the past year are: 8th grade (14.8%), 10th grade (28.7%), and 12th grade (36.5%). So to say that 17% of teens who got into serious fights report using drugs is not a particularly alarming thing. (In fact, it appears by these numbers that teens who use drugs are actually less likely to get into serious fights.)

It might be necessary to explain that Monitoring the Future is government data, frequently cited by ONDCP when it suits their agenda. Of course, we wouldn't go around issuing reports about how drug users are less violent than everybody else (even though that seems likely to be true). The point here is that ONDCP's insinuations about the relationship between drug use and youth violence reflect the precise opposite of what the data actually show. And this predictably proves to be the case virtually every time a report such as this is issued by that office.

One need only examine the sprawling media coverage they've generated this week to see why ONDCP has every incentive to continue issuing meaningless announcements like this as often as possible. Some news outlets did include a reform viewpoint, but that's insufficient since the headline does most of the damage and since the report's intellectual value is null to begin with.

A media that is dutifully skeptical of self-serving claims by government officials would quickly discover the treasure trove of nonsense and incoherence contained in every such announcement from ONDCP. Unfortunately, we don't have one of those. Therefore, journalists, I beg you, if you receive a press release that begins, "John P. Walters, Director of National Drug Control Policy, today released a new Special Report showing that..." please understand that there are almost certainly several potent ironies and contradictions contained therein, which deserve to be noted in your reporting. If necessary, I will point them out to you with or without being credited.

Otherwise, understand that if you publish a story merely passing along claims made by the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the likelihood that you've authored something inaccurate, incorrect, and/or incomplete will be extraordinarily high.

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Looking for the easiest way to join the anti-drug war movement? You've found it!

this is excellent advice to the media

Separate the pros from the cut and pasters.

Media coverage of ONDCP's report

Just a quick note on media coverage that readers might find interesting. A few of the stories (the Philadelphia Inquirer and later versions of the AP story) included a quote from the Marijuana Policy Project calling ONDCP's report misleading. NO news organization proactively sought comment from us or (to the best of my knowledge) any other drug policy reform organization. We got into a bit of the coverage because the instant we heard of this report we almost literally threw ourselves at the media. Unfortunately, it is a common media habit not to consider illegal drugs a legitimately contested issue. Consider: If this had been a report from the Environmental Protection Agency about Bush administration anti-pollution efforts, do you think for a minute the stories would have been written without at least a token opposion quote -- from the Democrats, or the Sierra Club, or SOMEBODY?

The biggest obstacle to serious debate about U.S. drug policy is a mainstream media mindset that treats journalism as glorified stenography.

Bruce Mirken
Director of Communications
Marijuana Policy Project

Thanks Bruce

This is fascinating. You've always done a great job of getting the right talking points out there, but it's depressing to think that you have to grab these folks by the earlobe to get your point across.

Sometimes when I've seen your quotes in the press, I may have assumed incorrectly that they actually called you to see what you think. Perhaps they do sometimes, but obviously that's often not the case at all.

Regardless, you've demonstrated that aggressively targetting the media with the right point at the right time can be effective. It just goes to show how much more our movement could accomplish if we had more discretionary resources to challenge propaganda like this as it emerges.

So What Else Is New?

Once again, just more proof that our government is purposly lying, and leading the public astray!

Almost no one will ever see these statistics. Our government (ie., the DEA, Law enforcement, etc) isn't interested in the truth unless they can bend it to their will, miss use it, or otherwise skew the information to make every aspect of any form of drug use look "bad." (Drugs is bad. Drugs is bad. Drugs is bad. I am a robot. I am a sheep. I can't be trusted to think for myself. I must have government tell me what to do, what to belive in, what to feel, and what I can and can't put into my own body.)

This is no longer the land of the free. We've had so many of our personal rights taken away, I'm suprised this isn't a Fascist dictatorship where our lives are lived to serve the will of the king. (ie, a conservative, or republican government)

BTW, that's a conservative's goal in life. Fundamentally republicans don't think us "un-washed masses" can be trusted to make our own decisions, or at least that the right choice (ie, their choice) is reached. So, their standing policy is to make our decisions decisions for us by expanding big government -- which they've done every time they are elected, yet they preach against 'big government' at every turn. Hey, wait a minute! Actually with so many Reagans, and Bush's in our recent past, we ARE starting to look more and more like pre-WWII Germany. It's just amazing to me sometimes the lengths they will go to miss-inform everyone. Yes folks, censorship is alive and well right here in the good old US of A ! ! !

Teens (and anyone for that matter), will always have ample access to most any drug legal or not. Crap like this, combined with teens being teens, will just lead to curiosity about taking drugs. Teens are in a stage of life where they are pushing the envelope, testing the waters of life, and finding life's boundries.

And with almost NO correct information on which to base their decisions, they jump right in head first. All they know is -- "Drugs is bad." Yeah, that's a lot to go on!? So, of course if you tell them not to do something, and not give them any info that is truthfull, or a valid alternative, they are going to try it. It's human nature. "What ever you do, don't look into this hole in the wall." And the very next thing we do is peek through! Of course! Wouldn't you?

I wish everything in life was as cut-and-dried as their views on any and all drug use!! Wouldn't things be simple then!!??

Ha! Yeah, right!

The ONDCP just doesn't understand the problem

The ONDCP just doesn't understand the problem. First, marijuana does not cause violence, if anything it’s the opposite. When making an arrest, I’ve never had to fight with anyone using marijuana, alcohol is another story. The problem is that kids shouldn't be able to buy marijuana.

I was talking to a high school girl the other day; I told her that we need to legalize drugs. She had this shocked look on her face, she said you can't do that, kids will get drugs.

I ask her how easy it was to get drugs at her school; she said it was pretty easy. I ask how easy it was to get alcohol; she said you have to be an adult to get alcohol. Her eyes lit up, she had that, “I get it look”. It’s too bad a 16 year old can understand, and the ONDCP just doesn’t get it.

It’s sad, but today if you’re looking for alcohol, ask an adult, if you’re looking for drugs, ask a kid.

Today the only one controlling the purity of drugs, where drugs are sold, to what age group, and where the profits go is the drug dealer.

Why do you think teens do drugs??

I know that teens do drugs because they are under alot of pressure, so just leave them alone and give them sometime to think. If things don't get better within a few weeks then you need to do something.

xoxo - Kourtney

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