The forecast for the American future looks grim. So while it is mired in the abysmal performance elsewhere (read Middle East) there are problems aplenty at home. Economy battling fundamental weaknesses, bureaucracy battling hubris and self-denial and now the founding-stones of society, too, are exposing considerable chinks in the armor.
What is being referred to of course, are the American schools, wherein the drugs and gun culture has seeped in to become ubiquitous and rampant, putting a question mark over the ability to deliver future statesmen and visionaries who will lead the charge of American dream. Shootings and sleazes in campuses are only a tip of the iceberg.
And in a staggering (expected?) confirmation of the problems that the school-going part of the populace faces, the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) has come up with reports revealing that about eleven million high school students (80 percent) and five million middle school students (44 percent) attend drug-infested schools.
The survey ‘ The National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse XII: Teens and Parents ‘ that was accomplished at Columbia University also disclosed that:
‘ About 31 percent of high school students (more than four million) and nine percent of middle school students (more than one million) see illegal drugs used and sold, at least once a week on their school grounds.
‘ Around 17 percent of all high and middle school students (4.4 million) personally see classmates high on drugs at school.
‘ The percentage of students, who attend schools where drugs are used, kept or sold soared 39 percent for high school students and 63 percent for those in middle school, since 2002.
‘ And the proportion jumped 20 percent for high school students and 35 percent for middle school students, from 2006 to 2007.
Latest findings notwithstanding, the problem had been recognized long ago, as a matter of fact some three and a half decades back. ‘War on drugs’ ‘ the phrase invented by President Nixon, who in 1971 declared illegal drugs ‘public enemy number one’ and his anti-drug legacy established fundamental mechanisms of social control that still pervade US society. Unfortunately, these mechanisms, more often than not, targeted supply-side factors and failed to address the key demand-side issues. This has made the fight against drug abuse lopsided and ineffectual to a great degree.
So great amounts of greenbacks have been pumped into the Latin American nations that are viewed as the chief suppliers of drugs but effective propaganda to demolish the ‘coolness’ that these substances bestow on youngsters is not engaged in concertedly.
These grim statistics reveal larger problems that are gnawing away at the roots of the social order in the American society, which for long has stood and watched helplessly the erosion of its value system. So who has been at fault? Should we blame the media which has promoted these aberrations or should the blame fall on the political class that people expect to deal with these kinds of problems? Or is the basic structure of this society (given to consumption) the culprit? Frankly speaking, the problem has roots in all and several more reasons and as such presents a dilemma for all who seek to curb this menace.
To add another dimension to the ongoing discussion, one may go on to say that the American problem is a representative of the problems that the educational institutions all around the world are facing. Yet admitting for U.S. failures and inadequacies, drug abuse is a worldwide problem and all nations must take responsibility to tackle it by generalizing it.
This survey’s findings must cause serious debate in all quarters and everyone needs to realize that catchphrases of 80’s have no chance when violence and sex are part and parcel of growing up. ‘Just Say No’ might look good in Archie strips but in real life ‘Who cares, anyway?’