Survey shows middle school alcohol, tobacco use on rise
Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 31, 2004
A 2004 survey of Shelby County Schools shows the percentage of high school students using
alcohol, illicit drugs, tobacco and marijuana
continued to decline for the second year.
But the same survey shows monthly use of alcohol and tobacco at the middle school level on the rise along with illicit drug and marijuana experimentation.
Except for tobacco use at the high school level in 2002, however, both middle and high school survey results remain below the national average in all categories.
Donna Dickson, student services coordinator for Shelby County Schools, said school officials are encouraged by the high school results and plan to intensify their efforts at the middle school level.
Dickson said for middle school students, &uot;We are taking a closer look at what areas we need to focus on, looking at different programs.&uot; However, she attributed the decline in use at the high school level to efforts against drug use in the schools
and an expanded drug testing program not only for athletes but those who park on campus, as well.
Dickson said high school students are given an opportunity to say no to drugs because they are subject to drug testing.
According to school officials, the Pride Survey used to determine prevalence and patterns in drug and alcohol use in Shelby County Schools is a standardized survey given nationally to middle and high school students.
Dickson said 8,661 students participated in the survey in grades 6-11. Survey categories included monthly use, use within the past year and comparisons between 2004, 2003 and 2002, as well as the national average.
&uot;They don’t have to put their name on the survey, so students are able to answer truthfully without fear that anyone will know what their responses were,&uot; Dickson said.
According to middle school survey results, some 9.6 percent of students admitted to using alcohol monthly. That was up from 8.6 percent in 2003 and 9.0 in 2002. However the result was 3.9 percent below the national average of 13.5 percent.
About 6.2 percent of middle school students admitted to monthly use of illicit drugs. That was down from 6.3 percent in 2003 but up from 5.9 percent in 2002. The result was 2.8 percent below the national average of 9 percent.
Monthly tobacco use among middle school students was 9.4 percent, up from 8.9 percent
in both 2003 and 2002. But the result was 2.2 percent
below the national average of 11.6
Monthly use of marijuana among middle school students was 4 percent, down from 4.4 percent
in 2003 and 4.3 percent
in 2002 and 3.1 percent below the national average of 7.1.
The number of middle school students who used alcohol in the past year was 27.4 percent, up from 26.6 percent in 2003, down from 28.5 percent in 2002 and 9.4 percent below the national average of 36.8 percent.
The number of middle school students who used illicit drugs within the past year was 11.5 percent, up from 10.9 percent in 2003, down from 11.8 percent in 2002 and 4.2 percent below the national average of 15.7 percent.
Tobacco use among middle school students within the past year was 18.2 percent, up from 17 percent in 2003 and 17.9 percent in 2002, but 4.6 percent below the national average of 22.8 percent.
Marijuana use within the past year among middle school students was 6.8 percent,
up from 6.6 percent in 2003, down from 7.6 percent in 2002 and 4.9 percent below the national average.
&uot;What that tells us is that kids are starting to experiment with drugs and alcohol at very early ages,&uot; Dickson said. &uot;The research shows us intervention is most needed at the middle school level. If we don’t reach them there, it is often too late.&uot;
Dickson said this was a reason S.W.A.T. (Student War Against Temptation) was expanded along with drug awareness programs at the middle school level.
&uot;We want to make sure we see those numbers go down next year and that we continue to keep them well below the national average,&uot; Dickson said.
According to high school results, 27.2 percent of students admitted to drinking alcohol monthly. That was down from 27.7 percent in 2003 and 30.4 percent in 2002. It was 4.9 percent below the national average.
Some 13.8 percent of high school students admitted to monthly use of illicit drugs. That was down from 15.2 percent in 2003 and 17.5 percent in 2003 and 6.5 percent below the national average.
Monthly tobacco use among high school students was 22.6 percent, down from 23.5 percent in 2003 and 27.3 percent in 2002. The national average is 25.2 percent.
Monthly marijuana use among high school students was 11.3 percent, down from 31.1 percent in 2003 and 15.8 percent in 2002 and 7.2 percent below the national average of 18.5 percent.
High school alcohol use within the past year was 53.4 percent, down from 54.4 percent in 2003 and 58.6 percent in 2002 and 8.2 percent below the national average of 61.6 percent.
High school illicit drug use in the past year
was 22.7 percent, down from 22.5 percent in 2003 and 29.1 percent in 2002 and 9 percent below the national average of 31.7 percent.
Tobacco use among high school students in the past year was 35.3 percent, down from 37.4 percent in 2003 and 45.5 percent in 2002. The national average is 39.3 percent.
Marijuana use among high school students was 19.2 percent, down from 22.7 percent in 2003 and 25.8 percent in 2002. that was 10 percent below the national average of 29.2 percent.
Some of the programs used in Shelby County Schools include chemical awareness and prevention (CAP) programs at each school, D.A.R.E. (Drug Awareness Resistance and Education programs in the elementary schools, intensive school counseling -programs like Red Ribbon Week, mandatory drug testing of students who participate in extra curricular activities or park on the school campus and volunteer student drug testing.
The S.W.A.T. program began at Oak Mountain High School in 2001 and was expanded to all high school and middle schools in the 2002-2003 school year.
Dickson said, &uot;SWAT&uot; is a voluntary drug testing program that parents and students agree to sign up for. Students are randomly tested for drugs and alcohol and the results of the test are then sent to the parents. The school system never sees the results.&uot;
The survey was taken by 1,655 sixth graders, 1,410 seventh graders, 1,364 eighth graders, 1,265 ninth graders, 1,149 tenth graders, 1,033 eleventh graders and 785 twelfth graders