Report: Girls abuse drugs in juvenile hall more than boys

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jail-cellSAN DIEGO — Girls who land in juvenile halls in the San Diego metro area abuse drugs at substantially higher rates than their male counterparts, according to a new study by the San Diego Association of Governments.

Following is a list of findings regarding drug use among girls:

  • Sixty-four percent of the girls reported that their families had been involved with county Child Protective Services, compared with 15 percent of the boys.
  • Seventy-six percent of the girls reported having run away from home, compared with 41 percent of the boys.
  • Girls were significantly more likely than boys to report using alcohol at an earlier age, with the average age of first alcohol use at 11.8 for girls and 12.9 for boys.
  • Girls were significantly more likely than boys to have tried methamphetamine (56 percent vs. 21 percent); ecstasy (60 percent/27 percent); LSD (28 percent/7 percent); and spice (76 percent/45 percent).
  • Girls also were significantly more likely than boys to have missed school due to drug use (50 percent/16 percent).

“These trends we are seeing speak to the importance of having gender- appropriate intervention and prevention programs to address the underlying needs of girls,” said Cynthia Burke, director of criminal-justice research for SANDAG.

As part of the study, a total of 124 youth were interviewed at juvenile hall in March and September of 2012. Among them, 120 — 97 percent — provided a urine sample for drug-testing purposes (95 male detainees, 25 female).

The analysis by the SANDAG Criminal Justice Research Division includes results of urinalysis trends over time, as well as information pertaining to lifetime and recent self-reported drug use, perceived risk and availability of different drugs, and characteristics of the youth interviewed and how those factors may be related to drug abuse.