For teachers, parents and police, curbing drug use means
Reaching out|Survey shows students use drugs, alcohol

Published 8:17 am Monday, November 2, 2009

By By Lisa Tindell
news editor

The results may be “shocking” but statistics on tobacco, drug and alcohol use by school-aged children is something the public needs to know, school officials said.
But among the statistics taken in an anonymous survey is data to back up teachers’ and parents’ education about the dangers of drugs and alcohol: The more likely parents are to educate their children and set rules, the less likely their children are to take drugs.
Donna Revel, at-risk and community education coordinator for Escambia County Schools said even though the numbers are still too high the percentages in all three illegal substance usage categories have dropped in the school system.
In a PRIDE survey taken by 1,665 students in Escambia County’s schools, students admitted to using tobacco, alcohol and marijuana; in Brewton City Schools, 557 took the survey with similar results.
The percentage of those admitting to the use has dropped from the previous year’s survey, Revel said.
Revel said the decrease in the percentages for each category could be a result of programs offered at county schools.
Revel said the survey is offered each spring and is voluntary and anonymous.
Brewton City Schools Assistant Superintendent Baxter Baker said reaching students at young ages — as law enforcement officers worked to do in elementary schools this week — is a key.
Revel said the current results are from the survey offered in April 2009.
Revel said some strides have been made in recent years to educate and make students aware of the dangers of making bad decisions.
Other results found through the survey show that the highest use of tobacco and alcohol begins at the tenth grade level. Students in the 11th grade show a higher rate of marijuana use.
The survey also cross-references students’ extracurricular activities and parental involvement with drug and alcohol use.
Not surprisingly, Baker said, students whose parents talk to them about drugs and who set limits and rules are less likely to engage in drug and alcohol activity. Likewise, students who participate in school and church activities are less likely to take drugs or alcohol.
The survey also shows that students are much less likely to take drugs or alcohol on school grounds than at home or at a friend’s house or other location.
Kerry Whipple Bean contributed to this report.