6th-graders say they’ve used drugs, alcohol, CAP Center survey finds|[6/16/05]

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 16, 2005

Some children as young as sixth grade in Warren County report trying drugs and alcohol and see no harm in it, Erik Mitchell of the Vicksburg Child Abuse Prevention Center said Wednesday.

Addressing the weekly meeting of the Vicksburg Lions Club, Mitchell released results of a survey administered during the 2004-05 school year showing 23 percent of the 547 sixth-graders who participated said they saw no harm in cigarettes and 30 percent see no harm in marijuana.

“We are still seeing gateway drugs like marijuana becoming doors to other things,” said Mitchell, head of the drug and violence prevention program at the CAP center.

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The survey, administered to sixth-graders at Vicksburg Intermediate on Dana Road and Warren Intermediate on Sherman Avenue, was written and asked students to choose the appropriate answers. Names are kept anonymous from the CAP Center to aid validity of the responses, Mitchell said.

Other responses of the survey reveal 14 students answering that they drank wine coolers three to nine times and 10 others saying they drank beer within the past three months.

Although VCAP has administered such surveys to sixth-graders in the past, the numbers from the most recent survey were higher than expected for the age group, Mitchell said.

He attributes that to a lack of parental involvement and easy access to drugs, cigarettes and alcohol at home.

“We really know how to create little monsters out there. Many of these children come from a life where they just don’t know any better,” Mitchell said.

Using the data to sharpen VCAP’s focus on raising awareness to drug and alcohol use would add to the center’s efforts in conflict resolution and behavior counseling, Mitchell said.

To that end, VCAP is attempting to gather volunteers to offer assistance to the one-man drug and violence prevention program, he said.

“I can only schedule so many presentations by myself,” Mitchell said.