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Illustration Photo: Shay Shmueli
Illustration Photo: Shay Shmueli
 
 

Drug abuse rampant among Arab youths

Study finds long-term use of cannabis, heroin, and cocaine more prevalent among Arab teens than Jewish. No extensive program offered at Arab schools, says criminologist

Sharon Roffe-Ofir
Published: 12.17.08, 17:51 / Israel News

Twelve percent of Israeli Arab youths abuse drugs, the Israel Anti Drug Abuse Foundation (IADAF) reported Wednesday. The foundation stressed the differences found between the Jewish and Arab populations in the country.

 

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"The gap ranges between 4-12%. Jewish youths are afraid of having a criminal record, but for an Arab youth this does not pose a threat," said Walid Hadad, the IADAF's inspector in the Arab sector. He spoke at a convention held by the foundation.

 

The data on drug abuse was collected over a year among 3,000 12-18 year-olds residing in Arab towns throughout the country. It was presented at the third convention held by the IADAF in Kfar Kana and included representatives from the Palestinian Authority.

 

The study checked the number of youths who had used cannabis (marijuana) over the previous week, month, and year, and in each case the average was 6%. The same percentage of Jewish youths was found to have used the drug over the previous year, but only 2% said they had used it during the previous month.

 

"In the Jewish sector there is such a thing as 'casual drug use', but in the Arab sector this doesn't exist – whoever tries it just once is hooked," Hadad said.

 

When it comes to more toxic drugs, the gap between the sectors widens. While just 1% of Jewish youths said they have been using heroin or cocaine, usage of these drugs was reported by 5% of Arab youths.

 

The study also compared drug use among youths belonging to "normative" families – including two parents without any known links to crime – and those who belong to other types of families. Among the youths belonging to normative families, 17.5% abused drugs, while just 8.3% of youths belonging to other families engaged in this behavior.

 

"The data is concerning and should alarm us all," said Hadad. Dr. Yuval Shimshon, a criminologist present at the convention, said that "unfortunately there are no extensive anti-drug programs offered at Arab schools for young ages, so this is what we have."

 

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