The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, October 26, 2001


Grade 6-8 risk behavior survey results are reassuring

"Our children are great," commented Carlisle School Committee (CSC) member Paul Morrison as the CSC members glanced through the results of the survey on Youth Risk Behavior. The results were consistently positive for students in grades 6 and 8 in a school system with small classes, support systems in place and a partnership with parents.

The results of the Carlisle Youth Risk Survey 2001 were presented to the school committee on October 16 by teacher Margaret Heigl, school psychologist Kim Reid, nurse Kathy Horan and assistant principal Steve Goodwin. Physical education teacher Heigl said that historically, since 1988, area school districts, including Concord, Concord-Carlisle High School (CCHS), Acton-Boxborough, Littleton and Westford, have administered their own surveys in the schools. For a school district to receive state funding, information and data from a survey on health issues is necessary.

Heigl said the purpose of the survey was to gain insight into the attitudes, knowledge and behaviors of Carlisle youth. Additionally, the results of the survey would be helpful for program planning and curriculum for the Carlisle students.

The school attempts to integrate programs into the school curriculum, including social competency programs in grades kindergarten through fifth, Narconon in grades 6-8, the DARE program in grade 5, as well as harassment training and information on eating disorders from the Massachusetts Eating Disorder Association and the community service effort.

Last April, Carlisle gave the survey of 54 questions to the students in grades six and eight. A partial list of the topics ranging from personal safety, alcohol and drug use were taken from the Concord survey. School parents were aware of the questions and were fully supportive of the survey.

The 54 questions covered health and safety issues, from the wearing of helmets to riding with a driver under the influence of alcohol, physical fighting, harassment or bullying, suicide, alcohol consumption, use of inhalants, AIDS, perception of individual weight, amount of exercise, the amount of television watched and the number of computer games played per day. Community member Margie Findlay, a member of ACTS (Action Committee for Teens) in Concord, asked the school to consider making the questions consistent with the survey administered in the Concord schools, since both schools feed into Concord-Carlisle High School.

Assessment of the survey results according to psychologist Kim Reid will be helpful in learning about the various attitudes and preconceived ideas students may have. With this knowledge the faculty hopes to develop a curriculum to foster skills such as refusal skills, to help students learn positive behaviors and make healthy decisions.

The teachers developing the Youth Risk Survey commented that the school already has a civility and health advisory task force, an advisor/advisee program, units on alcohol and AIDS, and ongoing special interest and friendship groups. The school also has set up a transition group into the high school using high school peers. CSC chair Suzanne Whitney Smith thanked all involved with the survey for the presentation and for establishing data to better school programs and individual health.

2001 The Carlisle Mosquito