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Hispanics Make Gains
30 December 2004
[It] is important to notice several accomplishments and national initiatives conducive to the well- being of the Hispanic community.
In the political arena, the November presidential election marked an increase in Hispanic voters at the polls and the landmark election of two Hispanics, Democrat Ken Salazar of Colorado and Republican Mel Martinez of Florida, to the U.S. Senate. Salazar's older brother, John Salazar, was elected a representative, so they became the first Hispanic brothers to serve in the Senate and House of Representatives at the same time. There are already two sets of Hispanic siblings serving in the House: Democrats Loretta and Linda Sanchez of California and Republicans Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida. In the meantime, confirmation is pending for President Bush's nomination of White House Counsel and former Texas Supreme Court Justice Alberto Gonzalez as attorney general.
On another front, the Office of National Drug Control Policy's National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign launched a national Spanish- language advertising blitz urging Hispanic parents to take early action to stop drug use among youths. The ads are part of outreach program that also includes news media outreach, community partnerships and online and print resources in English and Spanish aimed at Hispanic parents.
According to the U.S. Census, Hispanics are the youngest, largest, and fastest-growing ethnic population in the United States. Approximately 12 percent of youth marijuana treatment admissions involve Hispanics and among all Hispanic youth treatment admissions, marijuana was the primary substance of abuse 48 percent of the time, according to the Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Research shows many Hispanic parents do not realize their children may be at risk, and are not sure what they can do to make a difference.
But parents often are the best line of defense in stopping youths' drug use. According to a recent study, two-thirds of Hispanic teens see great risk of upsetting their parents and losing the respect of family and friends if they smoke marijuana.
As part of the Hispanic early intervention effort, a new bilingual brochure for parents who suspect their teen is using drugs or drinking was developed with input from leading health, education and business organizations serving the Hispanic community. Titled "Sospecha Que Su Adolescente Esta Consumiendo Drogas o Bebidas Alcoholicas?" (Suspect Your Teen Is Using Drugs or Drinking?), it includes information about the signs and symptoms of drug use and ways parents can help stop it. In addition, the brochure contains facts about marijuana and other illicit drugs, communication tips, conversation starters, and other resources. Free copies are available by calling the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information, (800) 788-2800, (877) SIN-DROGAS (for Spanish) or through www.LaAntiDroga.com .
The brochure is endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National PTA, Alianza para un Puerto Rico Sin Drogas, Interamerican College of Physicians and Surgeons, Inc., National Association of Community Health Centers, Inc., Partnership for a Drug-Free America, and the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Foundation.
The Media Campaign also has a Spanish-language Web site, www.LaAntiDroga.com , for Hispanic parents and adults. The site www.LaAntiDroga.com provides drug information, prevention strategies, and tips on raising healthy, drug-free children, along with advice from substance abuse prevention experts and other parents and a regular Spanish-language parenting tips newsletter.
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A group of national organizations has created an English-Spanish glossary of standard terms relating to student financial aid and post-secondary education. The initiative includes organizations involved in student financial aid and in promoting access to higher education to Hispanics throughout the country: Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, National Association for College Admission Counseling, National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, National Council for Community and Education Partnerships, National Council of Higher Education Loan Programs, TG, U.S. Department of Education, and the U.S. General Services Administration through FirstGov en Espanol.
Studies have shown that fewer Hispanics continue their education after high school than do members of other ethnic groups. The bilingual nature of many Hispanic communities creates a challenge for information campaigns. Parents may speak only Spanish while the children are bilingual. A recent survey found that many Hispanic parents and students would prefer to learn about student financial aid in Spanish, so providing Spanish-language information about college and student financial aid may help close the gap in college attendance.
The glossary is free and available from the participating organizations or at www.tgslc.org .