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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release October 11, 1997
                       RADIO ADDRESS BY THE PRESIDENT 
                                TO THE NATION

The Oval Office

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. We have worked hard to help parents pass on their values to their children, and to protect them from bad influences. Today I want to talk about a powerful new tool in our arsenal to help parents and to protect our children from the dangers of drugs.

Of all the investments we can make in our children's future, none is more important than our fight against the greatest threat to their safety -- illegal drugs. Under the leadership of our national Drug Czar, General Barry McCaffrey, we've fought to keep drugs away from our borders, off our streets, and out of our schools, with a tough and smart antidrug strategy. Working together with state and local law enforcement, we've made real progress. But unless we teach our children about the dangers of drugs, our efforts will be in vain.

Make no mistake; without our guidance, children are more likely to use drugs. Although overall drug use has declined dramatically, drug use by our young people has doubled. Among 8th graders, typically 13 and 14 years old, drug use has nearly tripled. We do not understand all the reasons for these unsettling statistics, but we do know this -- while illegal drug use by young people has risen, the number of antidrug public service ads has fallen by more than a third.

In the meantime, movies, music videos, and magazines have filled the gap -- and our children's minds -- too often with warped images of a dream world where drugs are cool. We know that the media can powerfully affect our children -- for good or ill. That is why we acted to protect our children from tobacco advertisements, and why we've urged the liquor industry to refrain from running hard liquor ads on television. Now we must take the next step and give our children the straight facts: Drugs are wrong, drugs are illegal, and drugs can kill you.

Young people who have not used illegal drugs by the age of 21 probably never will use them. That's why we must reach our children with the right message before it's too late. I just signed into law legislation that includes $195 million to launch an unprecedented high-profile, prime-time media campaign to reach every child in America between the ages of 9 and 17 at least four times a week. For the very first time, we'll be able to use the full power of the media -- from television to the Internet to sports marketing -- to protect our children from drugs. Teaching our children about the dangers of drugs today can mean saving their lives and our shared future tomorrow.

I am pleased that the Partnership for a Drug-Free America and the Ad Council will serve as advisors for this vitally important project. I'd like to say a special word of thanks to the Partnership for a Drug-Free America and its chairman, Jim Burke, for the outstanding example they have already set in showing us what good ads can do. And I urge business leaders all over our country to help us reach our goal by matching the funds that the Congress has appropriated. Finally, I ask all Americans to join in this crusade.

Above all, I ask the entertainment industry to do its part as well. Never glorify drugs; but more important, tell our children the truth. Show them that drug use is really a death sentence. Use the power of your voice to teach our children, and to help shape our nation's future.

Thanks for listening.