Parents and Caregivers>> Dade/Broward Drug Info
Dade/Broward Drug Info
Of Florida’s 67 counties, Miami-Dade and Broward are the two largest counties comprising the vast majority of youth reporting drug use/abuse and antisocial behaviors predestined to negatively impact healthy adolescent maturation. According to key findings of the 2006 Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey and county/school crime trends, Miami-Dade and Broward are among the highest need communities based on rates and cases of social and economic indicators.
More than 324,850 youth ages 10 to 18 are enrolled in public schools located in Miami-Dade and Broward counties (District wide Summary Report, Florida Department of Education). Approximately 54.5% are considered economically disadvantaged as represented by their enrollment in the free-or-reduced-price lunch program. Published studies (Cohen, 1995) document that the development of delinquency is directly related to the societal and familial conditions children encounter, such as poverty, family dysfunction, etc.
Researchers have further noted that 35% of children from low-income households report early onset of conduct problems and disruptive behaviors (Webster-Stratton & Hammond, 1998). The Florida School Indicators Report cites 23,201 incidents of violence and crime committed on school property in Dade and Broward middle and senior high schools during the 2005-2006 academic year. For high school students, this represented a 10.3% increase. The severity of crimes noted that fighting and harassment were reported most often, followed by disorderly conduct, and alcohol, tobacco and other drug use. Increases in incidents by type specifically include battery, sexual harassment, sexual offense, and weapons possession.
While local trends report decreases in the number of juvenile arrests over the past year, the rates remain alarming with 13.7%, or 10,979, Broward arrestees reported as under the age of 18, and 8.5%, or 11,258, Miami-Dade arrestees were juveniles (Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Arrests Totals and Index Arrests by County, 2005). In Miami-Dade County, notwithstanding a 7.9% decrease in overall crime, notable increases were found in the number of forcible sex offenses (108 additional offenses from 2004 to 2005) and aggravated assault arrests (90 additional offenses). Both Miami-Dade and Broward reported alarming increases in gun-related homicides primarily affecting children and teenagers. Broward had 95 homicide victims in 2006, up 50% from the previous year. Miami-Dade had 258 homicides in 2006, up 40% from 2005.
Males are disproportionately over-represented as the perpetrators of all crimes, and a National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse study (2002) found that four in five young people arrested for juvenile crimes had problems with alcohol and other drugs. Of equal interest is the incremental increase in the percent of students carrying handguns to schools as reflected in the 2006 Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey (FYSAS). From 2002 to 2006, Miami-Dade reported a 35% increase (3.4% to 4.6%) and Broward reported a 65% increase (2.3% to 3.8%). Other Miami-Dade and Broward trends in delinquent behavior of concern include increases in selling drugs at school, being arrested, and being drunk or high at school.
According to the 2006 FYSAS, alcohol remains the most commonly used drug among Miami-Dade and Broward County students with a prevalence rate of 55.6% (Miami-Dade) and 52.2% (Broward) of the respondents noting use at least once in their lifetime. Past 30-day trends were reported as 32.5% of surveyed Miami-Dade County students and 27.1% of Broward students. Binge drinking (defined as the consumption of five or more drinks in a row within the last two weeks) is a primary risk factor, and was reported at 15.7% of Dade County students and 11.8% of Broward’s youth, making this more prevalent than past 30-day tobacco and marijuana use.
A 2006 study conducted by the Pacific Institute on Research and Education notes that alcohol kills four times as many youths as all illicit drugs combined. The problems caused by underage drinking are a devastating tidal wave of alcohol harm and include alcohol-related traffic accidents, violence, teen pregnancies, STDs, drowning, alcohol poisoning, property damage, and other risks that take a human and economic toll vastly exceeding that caused by illegal drugs. Nearly one-half (47%) of all persons who begin drinking before the age 14 become alcohol dependent at some point in their lifetime (National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions, 2006).
The 2006 FYSAS reports an average mean age of first use of alcohol (defined as more than a sip) for Miami-Dade and Broward students as 12.6. Underage drinking is often a precursor to the use and abuse of other illicit substances. Not surprisingly, youth in both counties use marijuana more than any other illicit drug with an average mean age of first use of marijuana at 13.8. Of equal concern is the continually rising past 30-day use of non-medical prescription pain relievers, one of the newest drugs of choice in today’s society. New evidence reveals the impact of early initiation of drug use before the age of 18 on higher rates of addiction and serious mental health problems later in adult life.
Of the protective factors that counter risks, students in Miami-Dade and Broward report the lowest level of protection for the Community Opportunities for Pro-social Involvement scale.
According to key findings of the 2006 Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey (FYSAS) and county/school crime trends, Broward County youth are in need of evidence-based programs to address the complexity of their drug use and antisocial behaviors. Though the 2006 FYSAS reports a decline in youthful substance abuse from 2000 to 2006, key survey results document the need for continued improvement.
Alcohol remains the most commonly used drug among Broward County students with a prevalence rate of 52.2% of the respondents noting use at least once in their lifetime. Binge drinking (defined as the consumption of five or more drinks in a row within the last two weeks) is a primary risk factor, reporting a prevalence rate that surpasses past 30-day tobacco and marijuana use. Substantiating a national study released in February 2006 by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), Broward girls surpass boys in the rate of lifetime and past 30-day alcohol use.
Overall, Broward youth use marijuana more than any other illicit drug with 66,000 current users. As the use of non-medical prescription pain relievers continues to rise, new evidence reveals the impact of early initiation of drug use before the age of 18 on higher rates of addiction and serious mental health problems later in adult life. The 2006 FYSAS reports the mean age for their first sip of alcohol and cigarette use is 12, and 13 for marijuana use.
Research has long documented the correlation between substance use and the development of other antisocial behaviors. Within the targeted schools (Margate Middle, Sunrise Middle, Deerfield High, Fort Lauderdale High, and South Broward High), the Florida Department of Education reports 565 incidents of violence and crime committed on school grounds during the 2005-2006 academic year. Collectively, these schools report 14.1% of their students have received in-school suspension and 8.3% out-of-school suspension (2005-2006).
An average of 55.6% of the student population is enrolled in the free/reduced-priced lunch program. Recognizing that violence and crime tend to be high in areas in which at least 20% of the residents are poor (Lamison-White, 1996), the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice reports 12,130 Broward County juvenile referrals for 2005-2006. Arrest reports by zip code cite a total of 1,021 juvenile arrests within the targeted schools’ zip codes during 2003-2004.
The U.S. Department of Education’s Safe and Drug-Free Schools Program dictates that students across the nation should be provided an enriching academic environment free from drug use, crime and violence. DFYIT is a risk-focused substance abuse prevention program whose primary goal is to maintain a 95% or higher drug-free test rate among its club members. DFYIT is the only school-based adolescent prevention program approved by the Broward County Public School Board to utilize drug testing as an integral program component for its high school members.
Recent studies show that drug screening can be an effective tool, especially when accompanied by a comprehensive program providing connections to counseling and treatment for those who test positive (ONDCP, July 2002). Annually, DFYIT program staff work collaboratively with each participating school’s Club Sponsor (a dedicated Counselor or other school-based personnel that assists in organizing and managing DFYIT activities).
DFYIT assists Club Sponsors in identifying students at initial experimentation with illicit substances through its annual drug screenings, referring those students who test positive to the Club Sponsor for intervention. DFYIT’s prevention efforts and the Sponsor’s intervention activities enable students and their families to receive the necessary support that fosters healthy adolescent maturation.