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6 out of 10 New Hanover County high school students try drugs

WILMINGTON -- Earlier this week we told you about a survey that reveals an increase in risk behavior among students in New Hanover County schools. It found some students are experimenting with sex, drinking and drugs -- and doing it at a younger age. A spokesperson for New Hanover County schools says schools are committed to warning students about the dangers of sex and drugs, but educators say there's only so much they can do. A recent survey shows that more than half -- six out of ten students -- smoke marijuana by senior year at New Hanover County schools. New Hanover High Principal Chris Furr says he's not surprised. Furr said, "It disturbs me more than shocks me. It doesn't surprise me necessarily because I see the signs of it day in and day out." A spokesperson for New Hanover says the school system is committed to educating kids about sex and drugs. Programs begin as early as fifth grade. But some educators say school programs aren't nearly enough to solve the problem. New Hanover County Safe and Drug-Free Schools coordinator Beau McCafray said, "I see one of the major issues being a lack of positive, appropriate adult role models." McCafray has been overseeing drug prevention programs in county schools for nearly seventeen years. He says parents need to communicate effectively with their kids and help them make the right decisions. "You know, you want to prevent problem behavior, it's a lot more than telling somebody this is what a drug will do to you and don't do it," McCafray said. "There's got to be a level of trust there that it's like ok this may not be what you want to hear but you need to hear it." McCafray says parents also need to make sure their kids participate in other constructive activities, like sports, music, any extra circular activity that keeps them off the street. That way, they're less likely to get in trouble. "After school, that is a very vulnerable time and children need fun, healthy activities that are supervised by positive adult role models," McCafray said. School officials say the survey's results, which also indicate an increase in sexual activity, prompted them to approve a new sex education curriculum that encourages abstinence only. It will go into affect in August 2008.

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