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Indicator 9: Illegal Drug Availability and Drug-Related Discipline Incidents
(Last Updated: May 2017)

The percentage of students in grades 9–12 who reported that illegal drugs were made available to them on school property decreased from 32 percent in 1995 to 22 percent in 2015.

This indicator uses data from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) to examine the percentage of students who had been offered, sold, or given an illegal drug on school property, and then uses state data from the EDFacts data collection to look at the number of discipline incidents resulting in the removal of a student for at least an entire school day that involved students' possession or use of tobacco or illicit drugs on school grounds. Readers should take note of the differing data sources and terminology.

In the YRBS, students in grades 9–12 were asked whether someone had offered, sold, or given them an illegal drug on school property in the 12 months preceding the survey.40 The percentage of students in grades 9–12 who reported that illegal drugs were made available to them on school property decreased from 32 percent in 1995 to 22 percent in 2015 (figure 9.1 and table 9.1). However, no measurable differences were found between the percentages in 1993 (the first year of data collection) and 2015 and between the percentages in 2013 and 2015.


Figure 9.1. Percentage of students in grades 9–12 who reported that illegal drugs were made available to them on school property during the previous 12 months, by sex: Selected years, 1993 through 2015

Figure 9.1. Percentage of students in grades 9–12 who reported that illegal drugs were made available to them on school property during the previous 12 months, by sex: Selected years, 1993 through 2015

NOTE: "On school property" was not defined for survey respondents.
SOURCE: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Adolescent and School Health, Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS), 1993 through 2015.


In every survey year from 1993 to 2015, a lower percentage of female than of male students reported that illegal drugs were offered, sold, or given to them on school property. For instance, in 2015, about 19 percent of female students reported that illegal drugs were made available to them on school property, compared with 24 percent of male students who reported so.

In 2015, lower percentages of Asian students (15 percent), White students (20 percent), and Black students (21 percent) than of Hispanic students (27 percent) reported that illegal drugs were made available to them on school property (figure 9.2 and table 9.1). In addition, the percentage of Asian students who reported that illegal drugs were made available to them on school property was lower than that of students of Two or more races (25 percent). The percentage of Asian students who reported that illegal drugs were offered, sold, or given to them on school property was lower in 2015 than in 2013 (15 vs. 23 percent); however, no measurable differences were found between the 2013 and 2015 percentages for students of any other racial/ethnic groups.


Figure 9.2. Percentage of students in grades 9–12 who reported that illegal drugs were made available to them on school property during the previous 12 months, by race/ethnicity: 2013 and 2015

Figure 9.2. Percentage of students in grades 9–12 who reported that illegal drugs were made available to them on school property during the previous 12 months, by race/ethnicity: 2013 and 2015

! Interpret data with caution. The coefficient of variation (CV) for this estimate is between 30 and 50 percent.
NOTE: "On school property" was not defined for survey respondents. Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity.
SOURCE: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Adolescent and School Health, Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS), 2013 and 2015.


In 2015, public school students' reports of the availability of illegal drugs on school property varied across the 32 states for which data were available (table 9.2). Among these states, the percentages of students reporting that illegal drugs were offered, sold, or given to them on school property ranged from 15 percent in Maine and Oklahoma to 30 percent in Nevada.

Discipline incidents that result from illicit drug- related activities at school reflect disruptions in the educational process and provide a gauge for the scope of drug use at school. As part of the EDFacts data collection, state education agencies report the number of discipline incidents resulting in the removal of a student for at least an entire school day that involve students' possession or use of illicit drugs on school grounds.41 State education agencies compile these data based on incidents that were reported by their schools and school districts.

During the 2014–15 school year, there were 195,000 reported illicit drug-related discipline incidents in the United States (table 9.3).42 The number of illicit drug- related incidents varied widely across jurisdictions, due in large part to their differing population sizes. Therefore, the rate of illicit drug-related discipline incidents per 100,000 students can provide a more comparable indication of the frequency of these incidents across jurisdictions. During the 2014–15 school year, the rate of illicit drug-related discipline incidents was 389 per 100,000 students in the United States.

The majority of jurisdictions had rates between 100 and 1,000 illicit drug-related discipline incidents per 100,000 students during the 2014–15 school year. Three states had rates of illicit drug-related discipline incidents per 100,000 students that were below 100: Wyoming, Texas, and Michigan, while Kentucky had the only rate that was above 1,000.


This indicator has been updated to include 2015 data on student-reported information and 2014–15 data on discipline incidents related to illicit drug. For more information: Tables 9.1, 9.2, 9.3, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2016a), (http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/data/yrbs/pdf/2015/ss6506_updated.pdf).


40 "On school property" was not defined for survey respondents.
41 Includes tobacco.
42 United States total includes 49 states and the District of Columbia. Data for Vermont were unavailable for the 2014–15 school year.