Essay by Anonymous UserCollege, UndergraduateA+, November 1996

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The statistic I chose to analyze was something I pulled from the Washington Post about a month ago. The article stated that '68% of high school seniors admitted to trying marijuana at least once during their high school career.' The article was about the resurfacing drug problem among the teenage age group. It was aimed at an audience of parents and others who could be affected by such an alarming rate.

A number of thoughts crossed my mind when I read this statistic. My first thought was to question where the Washington Post had surveyed. As a resident of the metropolitan DC area, I am aware of the differences between the outer suburbs and DC itself. If the Post had focused on the DC area I would be able to believe the statistic much more than if they had focused on the surrounding area. Another thought was whether the Post had interviewed more boys than girls or vice versa.

Racial makeup of those involved in the study was another issue that the Post did not elaborate on. I also felt it relevant to ask what the percentage of that initial 68% were seniors who had only tried it once. I think the percentage would drop significantly if the Post changed the wording from 'tried it once' to 'used multiple times'.

Knowing the geographic location of those surveyed would be useful in a number of ways. First, it would ease the fears of parents not living in the troubled areas. More importantly, it would allow school officials, drug enforcement officials, drug counselors, etc., to focus their attention and dime to those specific areas with the biggest problem. Are we looking at inner-city youth or are we looking at suburban youth. It makes a difference as to how you approach the problem.