Surveys show fewer teens are drinking

Are local teens really drinking less alcohol? Have the efforts made by the school district and the City of Mercer Island’s Youth & Family Services department finally made a difference? Survey data seems to indicate the answer is yes.

Information released by the Mercer Island School District concerning the results from the 2012 40 Development Assets Survey corroborates data from two additional surveys that show underage alcohol use among Mercer Island High School 12th grade students is on the decline.

The “Assets” Survey looks at multiple risk and protective factors that influence a child’s development, including rates of alcohol use. These results were shared with the city’s Youth and Family Services Department’s Communities That Care project as part of a city-school partnership that includes collaborating on underage substance abuse prevention efforts.

Results from the “Assets Survey” find that past 30-day alcohol use among seniors has decreased 15 percent to the lowest rate in over a decade — approximately 45 percent said they had used alcohol, down from a high of almost 60 percent in 2000. Lending additional legitimacy to this number are similar findings from two independent surveys: the 2010 Washington State Healthy Youth Survey (HYS) placed past 30-day alcohol use by 12th grade students at 44 percent, and the Mercer Island Communities That Care Coalition 2011 Most Of Us Social Norms Survey (MOU) put the number at 47 percent. Not only do these finding represent a statistically significant decrease in alcohol use among seniors, but they may represent a shift toward more healthy social norms among students because seniors typically have a high degree of influence on substance-use trends for underclassmen.

According to MISD Superintendent Dr. Gary Plano, “We are cautiously optimistic that the downward trend of underage drinking among our youth will continue in the coming years. I commend the efforts of the high school staff and the Communities That Care Coalition.”

“These results are encouraging because they represent a significant reduction in harm caused to Mercer Island teens from underage alcohol use. Although we now are confident that underage drinking rates are declining, they nevertheless remain unacceptably high and the community needs to continue to work together to address this significant threat to our youth,” said MIYFS Director Cynthia Goodwin.


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