KIDS ON DRUGS
SEPTEMBER 25, 1996
To understand why drug use has skyrocketed amongst American youth in the past five years, Betty Ann Bowser talks to a group of teenagers and gets some surprising answers. Following the discussion, Elizabeth Farnsworth talks to advisors to Bob Dole and Bill Clinton about the growing drug use amongst teenagers.
A RealAudio version of this NewsHour segment is available.
Drug experts from the Dole and Clinton camps argue how to handle the Juvenile drug problem.
Bob Dole emphasizesthe twin evils of drugs and crime in a speech at the University of Virginia.
President Clinton's speech on crime and drugs was delivered in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he received the endorsement of the National Fraternal Order of Police.
The worrisome report on rising drug use makes waves on Capitol Hill.
Two new and deeply troubling reports have just been released showing that drug abuse among 12 to 17 year olds doubled in the US between 1992 and 1995.
Because one of the appropriations bills tied up in Congress calls for sharp reduction in funds to fight drug abuse, Jeffrey Kaye of KCET-Los Angeles examines some local treatment programs, to better understand the issues.
March 20, 1996
Three weeks ago the United States said officially that it was not satisfied with Colombia's fight against drug traffickers. In a Newsmaker interview, Colombia's embattled President, Ernesto Samper, talks to correspondent Charles Krause about his relationship with the drug cartels.
June 24, 1996
The Supreme Court ruled today in two cases involving double jeopardy and the way this country has fought the drug problem.
April 2, 1996
Kwame Holman looks at the political furor that surrounds Judge Howard Baer's decision to deem 80 pounds of drugs inadmissible evidence, a decision he has since reversed.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Now, back to John Walters, deputy director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy during the Bush administration and Rahm Emanuel, a senior adviser to President Clinton. Mr. Emanuel, what in the Clinton administration's current policies or future plans would be relevant to anything you heard there?
MR. EMANUEL: Well, you know, I heard a lot there like I heard when the President convened the first White House Conference on Juvenile Violence and Drug Use, which we did in Maryland, with General Barry McCaffrey. I think, John, you also attended or were invited to it. And what you heard here I think in this tape I think is very relevant to the discussion. One, kids' views of the dangers of drug use is down. That's what the University of Michigan study picked up in 1990, and then the pattern of behavior started to change in ‘91. We've got to motivate kids to understand the dangers of drug use. And I think that's why the President has always talked in a very personal way about what happened to his brother, Roger, and why he saw what happened, the drug use and what it can do to somebody in the sense of their potential loss of life as a motivating factor, do people understand (a) the dangers of drug abuse, why it's a personal decision, and you've got to understand it has consequences, it's illegal, it's dangerous, and most importantly, it's wrong. And if we motivate children to understand the danger, we're well on our way to getting there, and that's the example the President has always drawn in talking about his brother, Roger, and the consequences of what nearly happened to Roger.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Mr. Walters, what about the--the Dole--if there were a Dole administration, its plans and policies, how would they be relevant to what you heard there?
MR. WALTERS: I think we have to be--I think that's a good reminder--the interview of the children--that we are on our way to re-legitimizing drug use, of normalizing it. These kids think it's a normal part of, of youthful behavior. They think that drug use is something that is inevitable. It should be pointed out that tobac--cigarette use, alcohol use by young people, they all go down together with drug use when it goes down, then they go up together. So if you don't like cigarette smoking, that's been going up in the last few years too. Um, we have to de-normalize this. We have to make it a moral imperative as well as an imperative for the well-being of young people, and we need--and we need to be more serious. We need leadership beyond talking about simply, uh, federal budgets. We need a national leader who is willing to re-stigmatize the denial of self-respect, the harm to young people, the joking around about drug use, the question of the legitimacy by a surgeon general about the illegalization of drugs--
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: What would you say if these kids--if you were in front of these kids, what would you say to ‘em?
MR. WALTERS: I would say I think it's important to remember it's your responsibility. I think that the ridicule by liberals, frankly, of just say no by Nancy Reagan, which now is looked back on fondly, put it very succinctly. One, it's your responsibility not to do these things to yourself, and the consequences it has to society as well as your own well-being. Two, it's important that the institutions of adults, parents, and schools reinforce that and support it and don't giggle about it and don't look the other way. Three, it's important that the responsibilities of government enforce that by saying this is a serious national threat, we need to be serious about people who produce drugs abroad and ship ‘em here, we need to have a serious law enforcement effort, it's declined, it's not effective, it's not making any difference in any serious way, and more importantly, look, we have a history. We can turn this around. It's not gloom and doom. Strong Presidents on this issue--Nixon, Reagan, and Bush--presided over a 50 percent overall reduction in drug use, and almost 80 percent in cocaine use. It's when Presidents say we kind of can't do it, or it's not my responsibility, or we let it drift, and this is something when we push, it recedes. When we stop pushing, it wells up, but it's also--it's our children who are the victims here.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: The President made such a--has used the bully pulpit in the White House to, to fight smoking and to take on the tobacco companies. Is this something he might do with drugs too?
MR. EMANUEL: Yeah. And we'll continue to do it and draw--we'll continue the fight on tobacco and, John, we welcome anybody's help in supporting us since we've taken that fight on alone. Second, we'll continue to fight guns in school, uh, and that was a lonely fight, and we'll continue to do that to make sure there's a penalty and a consequence for that. We'll continue that on teen pregnancy, and also on drugs, because I think the President has drawn from a personal experience what happened to his brother, Roger, and I think that's a very poignant message that people need to appreciate in the sense of the dangers of drugs, and I would add one point to what John said here in the sense that of--umm, re-igniting what parents can do, what children can do, and also what law enforcement can do, and I wouldn't leave out the fact is what the clergy can do, and I think the biggest mistake that's happened here is the finger pointing, because I think one of the things those kids showed us is if we'd stop pointing fingers politically and start pointing to a solution, these kids will hear our message. And the problem they hear is when there's a tactical decision of trying to raise the issue of drugs when it's really not part of your record, and the fact is it's a calculating decision and by politicizing the issue, in fact, you turn kids off from hearing the dangers about drug use.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Why do you think that--I mean, we know that the clergy's been talking about drugs. We've been hearing the message, even though it may not have been as strong. Why do you think that these kids seem to accept that it's a normal part of the kids' culture?
MR. EMANUEL: Well, I think the key thing is and what happened is we as a nation, as General Barry McCaffrey said, as the President said, have taken our eye off the ball, and that started in 1990. The “Washington Post” indicated that and wrote a story about it.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Because it was going fairly well, is that your analysis of it, and so people took their eye off the ball?
MR. EMANUEL: No. I figure actually if we wanted to take--I don't know how much time we have here, Elizabeth, but, in fact--
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Just one minute.
MR. EMANUEL: I appreciate the last minute. It's, in fact, the media dropped off covering about it. It wasn't a part of what General--of what President Bush followed through on. It wasn't something that parents took the time to address the kids. In every point, this President said, regardless of party, regardless of partisanship, make sure that parents take the time to sit their kids down and explain to ‘em about the dangers and hazards of drug use. And that has been the example he has said, and parents have to do that, and they have to have the confidence, then the kids are going to get the same message at home that they get in school, and that's why he fought any attempt to cut the safe and drug free school program.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: And just briefly. We have about 20 seconds left.
MR. WALTERS: Well, look, this is--and the reason the Clinton administration is on the defensive is the most naked failure of Presidential leadership on the national issue of major importance, especially to children, in recent history, and, um, no matter how you want to cut it, the trough was 1992. It's gone up. And leave that aside. What's the plan to make a difference? Foreign policy, supply--those kids said they use because it's everywhere. It's normalizing and re-legitimizing de facto the sale and use of drugs. That has to be turned around. There isn't a credible plan on the table.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: That's all the time we have, gentlemen. Thank you very much for being with us.
MR. EMANUEL: Thank you very much.