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Parents can take steps to reduce teen drinking

Staff writer

A survey of Marion County students suggests that there are steps parents can take to reduce teen drinking.

The Communities That Care survey found that only 22 percent of students in grades 6, 8, 10, and 12 drank in the month before the survey, administered in December and January.

But of the students who reported drinking, 73 percent said they drank at home or a friend’s home.

Linda Ogden of Communities in Schools said this information shows parents could prevent children drinking by monitoring any alcohol at home and paying attention to people with whom their children spend time.

Adults also can reduce teen drinking by setting a good example, she said. Almost 25 percent of students said they knew five or more adults who had been drunk or high in the month before the survey.

“I think our adult behavior is what we need to look at,” Ogden said.

About 44 percent of students said their parents had spoke to them about the dangers of drugs and alcohol during the year before the survey. The state average was about 47 percent.

“They need to talk to their kids,” Ogden said. “Kids need to know their parents don’t want them to drink.”

The percent of students who reported drinking has remained fairly steady since 2000. Forty-five percent of high school seniors said they drank. That is the highest rate since 2003. However, only 12 percent of eighth-graders reported drinking; the lowest percentage since the survey began in 1996.

Marion County surveys have shown a lower drinking rate than statewide average every year since 1996.

Of students who reported drinking, 39 percent said they gave money to someone to purchase it for them. Another 22 percent were given alcohol by someone 18 or older. Only 4 percent said they took alcohol from a store or their family.

Tobacco use rising

Tobacco use among teens is rising. The lowest number of smokers was in 2006, when 5.8 percent of students said they smoked at least once. The number of smokers has risen steadily each year, to 10.2 percent in the most recent survey.

Smokeless tobacco reached a low in 2005, but has risen every year to 9 percent.

About 7 percent of students — and 16 percent of seniors — said they smoked marijuana. That is the highest rate since 2004.

Students in Marion County school districts generally have fewer risk factors than the state as a whole. Similarly, the county scores high in protective factors, such as student involvement and recognition, Ogden said.

Other counties

Among neighboring counties, Dickinson County had the highest teen drinking rate on the survey, 31 percent. It also had 11of students percent smoking, 11 percent using smokeless tobacco, and 5 percent using marijuana.

Butler County had a 24 percent drinking rate among survey respondents. Another 10 percent reported smoking, 6 percent chewing, and 7 percent using marijuana.

Morris County reported 24 percent of students drinking, 13 percent smoking, 9 percent using smokeless tobacco, and 4 percent using marijuana.

Among students in Chase County, 21 percent said they drank, 14 percent smoked, 9 percent chewed, and 4 percent used marijuana.

No 2009 data was available for Harvey and McPherson counties. Survey results are online at www.ctcdata.org.

Last modified Sept. 24, 2009

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