The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, December 3, 2010

Youth Risk Survey results concern Regional School Commitee

Concord-Carlisle High School (CCHS) Principal Peter Badalament addressed several Youth Risk Behavior Survey results at the Regional School Committee (RSC) meeting on November 23, including alcohol use and the high number of students contemplating suicide.

11% contemplate suicide

Eleven percent, which represents 110 CCHS students, responded on last spring’s survey that they had seriously contemplated suicide. Badalament is concerned about the high number and spoke of the actions taken at CCHS. The Lighthouse Program supports students when they are released from a hospital. He said an extra counselor from Eliot Community Human Services, along with Riverside Community Care Services, are working with the high school.

Badalament also talked about Project INTERFACE, which maintains a health and wellness referral help line. It’s a “free confidential referral service which matches needs to an extensive database of licensed mental health providers,” according to their website, “Each referral meets the location, insurance and specialty needs of the caller.”

“Our guidance counselors stay on top of communicating with families,” Badalament said. Director of Teaching and Learning Kathy Codianne said teachers and a counselor discuss how best to support individual students. She added that communication between parents of children receiving outside counseling and school counselors is highly recommended. “We have no way of knowing unless parents disclose to us.”

Alcohol use, binge drinking common

The survey results show 42% of all CCHS respondents and 63% of CCHS seniors have had an alcoholic drink on at least one occasion in the last 30 days prior to the survey; 25% have been binge drinking, defined as having had more than five drinks in a row within a few hours, in the last 30 days prior to the survey.

Many parents tolerate drinking at teen parties

Perhaps most troubling to the RSC was the statistic showing 35% overall and 54% of seniors report attending parties held in homes in their school district where alcohol use by teens was allowed, either “occasionally” or “frequently” during the 12 months before the survey. Badalament said it was troubling that parents would make this decision for other parents’ kids. RSC Chair Louis Salemy said, “This is where the problem is . . . This feeds everything else.” RSC member Peter Fischelis said, “I find this staggering.” He wants the community to know this is a big concern.

RSC member Pam Gannon suggested that a list of parents committed to not allowing minors to drink at their homes be created. She said this is done at some independent schools. Superintendent Diana Rigby agreed a “Safe Houses” list would be a simple action. She added that behavior and attitudes need to change. The survey results will be discussed with parent-teacher groups.

Codianne said the health curriculum covers the subject. Badalament said there have been a number of forums on teen drinking. A student last year told him, “There is nothing else you can teach us to change our decision.” This statement leads the principal to think the problem is endemic. He suggested that parents should be calling parents where kids are spending their time. Also, there is a need to take a look at alcohol use in the community. Codianne agreed, “There has to be a lot more talking about what’s going on at home.”

Sport participation high

One positive result of the survey showed 76% of students are physically active. Badalament said 60% of students are playing sports at any one time. “This is one of the few bright points in this report.”

For more information on the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, see “Alcohol, drugs remain a concern at CCHS,” in the November 12 issue. ∆

© 2010 The Carlisle Mosquito