|Substance Abuse Survey-Wakulla Times March 2011|
SUBSTANCE ABUSE STATISTICS PAINT AN IMPROVING PICTURE
The Florida Office of Drug Control recently released the results of the 2010 Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey which included Wakulla County and all but one of the 67 Florida counties that participated.
In the late stages of 2010, Bruce D. Grant, Director of the Florida Office of Drug Control, and White House Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske, announced reductions in the number of youths who are currently drinkers; binge drinkers and youths who use misuse prescription drugs.
The number of youth who perceive harm or disapproval from regular use of alcohol increased. Of concern in the survey is a continued softening of youth perception of harm from marijuana and a slight increase in the number of youth who report current use of marijuana.
The Wakulla portion of the survey included 812 responses with slightly more female responses than males. The survey covered sixth graders through 12th grade and ages 11 to 19 or older. There was slightly higher participation in middle school compared to high school, 51.6 percent of the responses compared to 48.4. Statewide, the survey included 72,797 respondents.
One issue of concern in Wakulla County is that the responses indicate that Wakulla County youths report using various drugs in their lifetimes at a higher rate than the state average. The most common responses included 57.8 percent of all the Wakulla respondents stating they have used alcohol, 38.2 percent have used cigarettes and 30.8 percent have used marijuana or hashish. The state averages were six percent lower for alcohol, 13 percent lower for cigarettes and 7 percent lower for marijuana.
Wakulla County youth averages were lower than the state for the use of inhalants, methamphetamine, heroin, and steroids and tied with the state average for cocaine or crack cocaine.
The good news is that Wakulla County’s statistics for alcohol have been coming down since 2000. There has been more than a 10 percent reduction in the percentage of students who consumed alcohol in 2010 compared to 2000. The total number of students at all grades who drank in 2000 was 68.3 percent in 2000 compared to 57.8 in 2010. Eighty percent of high school students reported drinking in 2000 compared to 73.3 percent in 2010.
Cigarette use has fallen from 61.7 percent in 2000 to 38.2 percent in 2010. But it took a jump from 36.6 percent in 2008. Marijuana use was also on the decline from 42.4 percent in 2000 to 30.8 percent in 2010. However, marijuana use jumped from 25 percent in 2008 to 30.8 in 2010. Inhalant use, methamphetamine, heroin and steroid use all declined from 2000 to 2010.
The percentage of Wakulla students who “perceive great risk or harm” from one or more drinks every day; smoking a pack or more of cigarettes every day; smoking marijuana regularly; or trying marijuana once or twice, was lower than the state average But 37.8 percent of Wakulla students perceive drinking as harmful while 63.9 percent perceive smoking a pack or more a day as harmful. Fifty percent of the students felt smoking marijuana regularly is harmful and 26.3 percent perceive that trying marijuana once or twice is harmful.
In 2010, 76 percent of the students surveyed felt it was wrong to smoke cigarettes while 62.8 percent think drinking regularly is wrong. Smoking marijuana is wrong according to 73.6 percent of those surveyed. A total of 96.1 percent feel it is wrong to use other illicit drugs.
Where do high school drinkers get the alcohol they consume? A total of 39.4 percent said they received it from someone while 26.5 percent said they had it purchased for them. Store purchases account for 6.8 percent and taking it from other family members accounted for 5.8 percent. “Some other way” accounted for 20.1 percent. The statewide averages were similar although 42.8 percent statewide said they had alcohol given to them.
Where do high school drinkers consume their alcohol? Students said that 59.4 percent drank at another person’s home compared to 20.5 percent who drank at their own home. Twelve percent drank “some other place.”
Wakulla high school age students were asked how many drinks they consumed in the past 30 days and 40.6 percent of students said they had five or more drinks. The next highest percentage was 20.4 percent stating that they had one drink. A total of 17.2 percent had two drinks, 12.6 percent had four drinks and 9.1 percent had three drinks. Statewide, 27.5 percent of students said they had five drinks or more in the past 30 days.
Most Wakulla County students surveyed admitted fewer delinquent activities than the statewide average, but 4.3 percent admitted carrying a handgun. Another 7.4 percent admitted to selling drugs and 1.9 percent admitted to attempting to steal a vehicle. A total of 3.4 percent admitted to being arrested, but only .04 percent took a handgun to school. Ten percent were suspended and 10.2 percent admitted attacking someone with intent to harm. The highest percentage was 17 percent of students being drunk or high at school. The highest state percentage was 14.7 percent getting suspended and 12.9 percent being drunk or high at school.
While there was some fluctuation in the percentage rates from 2000, for the most part, the delinquent behavior trends for Wakulla County students have decreased. Twenty five percent of students reported being drunk or high at school in 2000 compared to the 17 percent in 2010.
Wakulla students were ranked below the statewide average in gambling and arguing about gambling. A total of 48.9 percent of Wakulla students gambled compared to 52.4 percent statewide. Thirteen percent of Wakulla students argued about gambling compared to 13.7 percent statewide.
Bullying behavior has received a great deal of attention recently. Wakulla students reported that 23.3 percent were worried about bullying and 5.2 percent skipped school because of bullying. A total of 13.7 percent of students were kicked or shoved in the past 30 days and 30.2 percent were taunted or teased in the past 30 days. Ten percent of the students reported being victims of cyber bullying while 8.6 percent physically bullied others in the past 30 days and 17.1 verbally bullied others. A total of 4.6 percent admitted to cyber bullying in the past month.
The three most common areas for Wakulla students to be bullied in high school were in hallways or stairwells, the classroom while a teacher was in it and the cafeteria.
Demographically speaking, 74.1 percent of the Wakulla students who responded to the survey were white while 10.5 percent were listed as “other or multiple” and 8.1 percent were African American, 2.8 percent were American Indian and 2.5 percent were Hispanic/Latino. The highest response group was from 14-year-olds.
At the Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office we have attacked these student concerns by acquiring a $600,000 grant to create a Juvenile Justice Section that provides extra school resource officers at Wakulla High School. We have also continued to work with the school district administration to provide school resource officers at our two middle schools. While the sheriff’s office has been proactive, we must also remember that data is a tool and with a relatively small survey group of approximately 800 the percentages are subject to larger fluctuation than at the state level where more than 72,000 students were surveyed.
It is my hope that Wakulla County organizations like the Wakulla County Coalition for Youth (WCCY), the Wakulla Sheriff’s Office School Resource Program, school district programs, 4-H and other programs remain in place to help Wakulla County young people select the correct path so that taxpayers pay for their public school education rather than having to spend tax dollars on institutional incarceration.