CINCINNATI — Some of the nation's fourth-grade students have already started drinking beer and wine coolers or sniffing inhalants on a monthly basis, a national organization that monitors drug use among youths reported Wednesday.
In a self-reported survey of 26,086 fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade students nationwide, some fourth-graders said they had used cigarettes (4.1%), beer (7.7%) and inhalants (6.3%).
Of those fourth-graders, 2.1% said they drink beer, 2.2% drink wine coolers and 2.2% use inhalants on a monthly basis.
The use of cigarettes increased to 7% in the fifth grade and 14.8% in the sixth grade, while use of beer rose to 8.2% in the fifth grade and to 15% in the sixth grade, according to the survey by the Atlanta-based organization Parents' Resource Institute for Drug Education.
The survey was released as the organization began a conference in Cincinnati. It was the organization's first nationwide look at drug and alcohol use by youngsters.
Peer use was a factor influencing some youngsters to try drugs, alcohol and cigarettes, organization officials said. But parents can be influential in persuading youngsters to avoid using those things simply by talking to their children before they experiment, they added.
The study was conducted during the 1997-98 school year. The organization sent a questionnaire to participating schools with instructions for administering the anonymous surveys.