week something happened here in Washington that makes me proud,
and I expect you'll feel the same way. It had to do with a report that our
Secretary of Health and Human Services, Dr. Otis Bowen, released on Wednesday.
Now, most of the time government reports, with all their statistics and dry
language, are not particularly interesting. But this one is different, because
it has to do with something of deep concern to every American family: attitudes
about drug use among America's young people.
each of the last 13 years, the Government has surveyed America's graduating high
school seniors. Every year thousands of seniors in hundreds of schools across America have been asked about
the drugs they've used and about what they think of drug use. For many years,
what we found out proved pretty discouraging. In the seventies students told of
ever more frequent drug use. Many of them said that some drug use, even drugs
like cocaine, was okay, nothing to be afraid about. We had a drug epidemic, and
too often our national leaders, in government and the media, didn't seem to
use, some said, was a victimless crime. No one got hurt. No one suffered. So,
what was the big deal? Well, I've often thought that this message that drugs
weren't all that bad was part of a larger message. The same people who winked
at us about drugs also told us that America's future was bleak. Too
often they said that the traditional values of family and community were old
fashioned and out of date. It was as if they'd lost faith in the future and
wanted the rest of us to lose it, too.
in communities around America, families, teachers,
and young people themselves were finding out that those who said drug use was
no big deal, whether they knew it or not, were telling a big lie -- and a
dangerous one. Just how dangerous we all saw 2 years ago when a promising
athlete, a young man whose future could have been written in headlines and in
gold, died of a cocaine overdose. Len Bias never got to play professional
basketball. But today his mother says that his death may have been a message
from God to America's young people: Stay
away from drugs -- all drugs -- all the time.
as you know, others have carried that message, too. For 6 years now, Nancy has been traveling
around the country spreading the word. On one trip out West, a student asked
her how to turn away from drugs when they were offered. She replied: ``Just say
no.'' Since then, thousands of Just Say No clubs have been started in schools
around the Nation. Students got the message, in many cases, long before adults.
brings me back to the report I was telling you about. Maybe you've heard the
best news in it already. Last year for the first time since the surveying
began, a substantially smaller proportion of high school seniors -- one-third
smaller -- acknowledged current use of cocaine than acknowledged it the year
before. But that's not all.
are no longer buying the old line that experimenting with cocaine and other
illegal drugs is safe. For many years, only about a third of them said that
using cocaine once or twice was dangerous. Last year almost half did, and
nearly 90 percent said regular use was dangerous. And cocaine use is no longer
the ``in'' thing. In fact, almost all the seniors surveyed -- 97 percent --
disapproved of regular cocaine use. And whether they thought one or two
experiments dangerous or not, 87 percent disapproved of even trying cocaine.
Use of marijuana and amphetamines is also dropping. More than 10 percent of the
members of the class of 1978 said they used marijuana daily. In the class of
1987, it was only about 3 percent, still too many, but much better than it was.
And more than 70 percent -- more than ever have before -- say that regular
marijuana use is harmful.
the message is out, and America's young people have
heard it: Drugs hurt, drugs kill, drug use is nothing to brag about, stay away
from drugs. A few minutes ago, I said all this makes me proud. Well, the one
thing I've found you can always count on is that when we Americans get a
message and decide to do something -- watch out --
there's nothing that can stop us! I'm proud, as I know you are, of Nancy and of the many adults
who've worked against this plague. But most of all, and I know also you join me
in this, I'm proud of millions of young Americans who
-- one by one, or together with their friends -- just say no to drugs.
next week, thanks for listening, and God bless you.