The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, February 4, 2005

News

Youth Risk behavior survey reveals alarming statistics

Kathy Bowen, the K-12 Health Education Coordinator/Director; Art Dulong, principal of Concord-Carlisle High School and Arthur Unobskey, principal of the Concord Middle School, presented the findings of the 2004 Youth Risk Behavior Survey to the Regional School Committee on January 25.

This survey was given to students in seven districts in the surrounding area in March, 2004, including students in sixth and eight grades in Concord and grades 9 through 12 at CCHS. Survey questions concentrated on alcohol, tobacco and drug use and sexual, violent and dietary behaviors. Bowen felt strongly that the answers the students gave are real and the results are valid. (Note: 1% = 11-12 students)

Attempted suicide, harming oneself:

14.8% of all respondents report having hurt themselves on purpose (cuts, bruises, burns) on at least one occasion during the previous twelve months;

• 10.4% of all respondents report having seriously considered attempting suicide during the twelve months prior to the survey;

• 3.9% of all respondents report having actually attempted suicide on at least one occasion during the twelve months prior to the survey.

Bowen reported that cutting, burning and bruising oneself was on the rise. This, along with the high number of attempted suicide, is quite alarming. There have been several suicides in the surrounding towns. Somehow we need to educate students and parents on this issue so students don't see this as a reasonable path to take, he said.

Threatened violence:

• .7% of all respondents report having carried a gun on school property on at least one occasion during the thirty days prior to the survey;
• 4.2% of all respondents report having been threatened or injured by someone with a weapon such as a gun, knife, or club on school property;
• 4.7% of all respondents report having ever been hurt physically or sexually by a date or someone they were going out with.

The report suggests that roughly 18 students had taken a gun to school in the month before the survey was taken. This statistic took the committee and Dulong by surprise. Dulong related one instance last year where a student had brought a gun to school. He heard of the gun from several sources and the problem was quickly taken care of. It seemed odd to him that he had heard nothing of the other possible instances.

Under-age smoking and drinking

• 30.4% of all respondents report having ever tried cigarette smoking, even one or two puffs.
• 67.3% of all respondents report having at least one drink of alcohol (other than for religious reasons) on at least one occasion during their lives and 14.7% report having had their first drink of alcohol before the age of 13.

• 36.8% of all respondents report having had at least one drink of alcohol on at least one occasion during the thirty days prior to the survey;
• 23.9% of all respondents report having had five or more drinks of alcohol in a row on at least one occasion during the thirty days prior to the survey;
• 29.9% of all respondents report having attended parties held in homes in their school district where alcohol use by teens was allowed, either occasionally or frequently during the twelve months prior to the survey.

Alcohol use among teenagers was discussed. Binge drinking was of particular concern because it is so harmful to the brain and implies riskier behavior. The last statistic, that almost 30% of teens had gone to parties in our two towns where parents allowed them to drink alcohol, was quite disturbing to the RSC. Michael Fitzgerald said, "How do we educate our parents?" Although it is legal for parents to allow their own child to have alcohol in their own home, it is against the law to give other children alcohol.

Illegal drug use

• 2.8% of all respondents report having ever used marijuana;
• 18.4% of all respondents report having used marijuana on at least one occasion during the thirty day s prior to the survey.

The correlated data between smoking and drinking is strong. Of those who smoked recently, 87% also drank alcohol recently. In addition, of those who smoked recently, 90% had ever used marijuana. Seemingly, those that exhibit risky behavior do so in a variety of ways.

Sex, TV, student perceptions

• 4.0% of all respondents report having ever had sexual intercourse.
• 14% of all respondents report having watched TV 3 hours or more a day on an average school day.

Another interesting statistic was revealed about how students view their peers. Students have a perception that more of their classmates are drinking alcohol and using drugs than is true. Students believe that their peers are more sexually active than what was reported as well.


2005 The Carlisle Mosquito