ASU study: Communication is key for keeping your kids off drugs

October 25, 2017

It might be a difficult conversation to have, but a new study confirms that talking to your children about substances will help keep them off drugs. 

The research, led by Jonathan Pettigrew, assistant professor in the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication, was recently featured in the New York Times article, “When Your Teenager Asks ‘Did You Smoke Weed?’”  The article highlights Pettigrew’s research that parents who provide direct information, guidance or advice about substances like marijuana, have adolescents who are less likely to experiment with drugs.     Download Full Image

“Warm families that welcome conversations on a variety of topics actually help prevent substance abuse,” said Pettigrew, who specializes in adolescent behavior.

Pettigrew collaborated with a team of researchers. They questioned more than 3,000 seventh and eighth grade students from 39 rural schools in Pennsylvania and Ohio about their use of alcohol, cigarettes and marijuana, the most commonly used substances in early adolescence.

Most of the students reported that they have talked with their parents about drug use.  Those who hadn’t talked to their parents were more likely to report that they had tried illegal substances. 

“This finding is important to share with parents, especially given that these substances are often believed to pave a path toward more problematic substance use,” Pettigrew said.  

He says that because youth hear direct messages about substances from the media, peers, and prevention programs, “parents, too, should join the conversation with their children.”

The good news is that students reported that their parents are the individuals with whom they are most likely to talk about substances, and consider credible sources of drug information.  

“The cultural stereotype of a rebellious teen is a bit overblown,” Pettigrew said. “Sure it happens, but not for everybody, and not the majority.”

At what age should you have “the drug talk” with your children? 

“The foundation needs to be laid in seventh and eighth grades,” Pettigrew said. “If parents are  laying out their expectations, maintaining warm friendships with their children, and handling conflicts well, then they are setting themselves up for later on when their child says ‘I have a friend who wanted me to smoke weed with him, but I wanted to talk to you about it.’” 

Jonathan Pettigrew is also an affiliate scientist with ASU’s REACH Institute, which endeavors to increase community access to prevention programs and advance research, education and the health and well-being of children and families.

Manager, Marketing and Communication, Hugh Downs School of Human Communication


TRIO Talent Search prepares high school students for college

ASU's newest college prep program assists students' transition through the academic pipeline

October 25, 2017

Every student deserves a chance to understand and pursue higher education. That is why TRIO Talent Search focuses on recognizing the potential in students while ensuring that they achieve their goal of higher education.

As the newest Arizona State University college preparation program, the purpose of TRIO Talent Search is to assist students’ transition and success through the academic pipeline from high school to post-secondary education, no matter their level of knowledge in higher education. Students participate in ASU's TRIO program. Download Full Image

High school and middle school students are encouraged to pursue higher education and take the first step toward achieving this dream by joining the extensive TRIO family at ASU. Here students become part of a community dedicated to ensuring that they know where they are going, and have a better understanding of the college process.

TRIO Talent Search is a federal pre-college program developed to provide academic and support services for first-generation and/or low-income students interested in seeking higher education with the goal of earning a college degree.

ASU and the Tolleson Union High School District have partnered to offer the ASU TRIO Talent Search program to Tolleson students and families. The program provides academic support, university exposure and the necessary tools and resources to empower students to graduate high school ready to enroll and succeed in college.

TRIO Talent Search participant Savanna Ghaleb, a current senior at La Joya Community High School, is hoping to gain knowledge on the college process.

"As a first generation student, I struggle to know what to do on my own," Ghaleb said. "But having that guidance from someone experienced will help me be better prepared and know what to do.”

To meet the unique needs of each participant, Talent Search coaches create an individualized college preparation plan, recommend program activities and provide resources and support for every Talent Search student. Most Talent Search activities are offered during the school day, at the participant’s high school.

During the summer, TRIO Talent Search and Upward Bound partnered to offer their students a Summer Bridge Experience on June 23, at ASU's Downtown Phoenix campus. Talent Search director Carolina Luque Rodriguez said the Summer Bridge experience was important because it showed the program is part of a larger TRIO family at ASU.

“Coming together with our Upward Bound program, the Talent Search students got the chance to meet other TRIO students and understand that they’re not alone in this college readiness journey,” Luque said.

Approximately 150 Talent Search and 120 Upward Bound students participated in the Summer Bridge Experience, one of the enriching academic, social, cultural and college preparation activities offered to Talent Search and Upward Bound participants.

“A lot of the students we work with don’t know what’s after high school. They don’t know what the process is or what to expect; so, when they see the applications and the FAFSA, they get stressed out,” program coordinator Eduardo Alonso said. "We’re here to help them out, let them know they can do it and mentor them through the whole process.”

During the Summer Bridge Experience, students were given presentations on time management and how fixed-and-growth mindset play into making changes before the new school year.

Talent Search mentor Francisca Morales said the Summer Bridge Experience and the work she does with the program overall is her opportunity to give back to the community that supported her.

“I know when I was in high school, I had a lot of help preparing for college. I want these students to know that they have someone here to help them and motivate them,” Morales said.

After the classroom presentations, the Talent Search cohort walked to Chase Field to hear from Arizona Diamondbacks representatives about careers in sports beyond being an athlete before attending the June 23 baseball game.

Now that the new school year is underway, TRIO Talent Search director Carolina Luque Rodriguez is “excited to be in the schools starting this fall, getting to know our students and building a stronger partnership with the Tolleson Union High School District.”

TRIO Talent Search is a free program available to Tolleson Union High School District students interested in pursuing a college education. It is offered through a partnership between the U.S. Department of Education and Arizona State University. Program applications are accepted year-round.

For more information, visit the TRIO Talent Search website, email, or call 602-496-0972.

Associate Director, Marketing & Communication, Educational Outreach & Student Services