Surveys show decrease in student alcohol use, more family support
A 2011 Morgan County Pride Survey showed a decrease in alcohol use at every grade level, said Shamus Cleveland of the Morgan County Partnership program.
A 2012 Morgan County Asset Survey in February showed increases in some of the 40 youth developmental building blocks or assets.
Cleveland reported on the Asset Survey and Pride Survey at a Morgan County School Board meeting.
Some 488 students in the fourth, sixth, eighth and tenth grades took part anonymously in the survey at Greenwood Elementary, Pleasant View Elementary, Warm Springs Intermediate, Warm Springs Middle, Berkeley Springs High and Paw Paw schools.
The fall 2011 Pride Survey was given to 1,153 Morgan County students in grades 6-12 at Warm Springs Middle, Berkeley Springs High and Paw Paw schools.
Every grade reported drinking more alcohol annually than other students across the nation, Cleveland said. However, the use of alcohol had gone down in every grade from the 2004 survey results.
The average county age of first use of alcohol and tobacco was 12.6 years and 13.1 years for marijuana. Kids were more likely to become addicted when starting that young, he said.
Youths using alcohol before age 15 were having more difficulties when older. “The longer we can hold them off, the more successful they’ll be,” Cleveland said.
In the survey, all grades saw tobacco as harmful, but alcohol use was seen as no risk or a slight risk, he said. More girls were drinking than boys.
Some 28.9% of county seventh graders, 53.1% of ninth graders and 71.8% of twelfth graders reported using alcohol in the past year.
About 18% of seventh graders and 32% of ninth graders said they had used illicit drugs in the past year.
Painkillers and prescription drugs were seen as a problem. Hallucinogens, ecstasy and ketamine are coming from Baltimore and Martinsburg, Cleveland said. They are seeing so many addictions in young people.
School board member Pat Springer noted that the brain isn’t fully developed in adolescence.
A comparison was available for eighth and tenth grade students from an April 2006 survey.
Eighth grade students in 2012 reported higher levels of family support, parent involvement in schooling, safety, high expectations, involvement in church activities, achievement motivation, school engagement and social competence than eighth graders in 2006. They also indicated more caring, equality and social justice, honesty and responsibility.
Tenth graders in 2012 reported having more school boundaries, positive peer influence, achievement motivation, homework, caring and equality and social justice than those in 2006.
Tenth graders, on the other hand, reported less parent involvement in schooling and less involvement in youth activities in 2012.
Eighth graders noted slightly less caring neighborhoods and school climates and considerably less time in church activities.
There was also a drop in the number of eighth graders and tenth graders saying they were reading for pleasure three or more hours a week.
School board member Eric Kidwell felt some kids may not have thought of the kinds of reading they enjoy when they took the survey. For some, reading for pleasure could mean sports magazines or how-to articles.
In the 2012 survey, 62% of eighth and tenth graders reported having family support. However, 29% said they had positive communication and parent involvement in schooling.
Some 82% of fourth and sixth graders said they had family support and 55% reported a caring neighborhood and caring school climate.
Some 18% of eighth and tenth graders felt the community values youth and 19% thought youth are seen as resources.
Some 37% of fourth and sixth graders thought the community values youth and 41% felt children are considered as resources.
Highs & lows
Some 88% of fourth and sixth graders have high expectations, 81% had school boundaries and 80% positive peer influence.
About 14% of eighth and tenth graders reported having creative activities—three or more hours a week in lessons or practice of music, theater or other arts—while 48% of fourth and sixth graders did.
Some 19% of fourth and sixth graders said they had time at home, while 66% of eighth and tenth graders did.
Just 23% of eighth and tenth graders acknowledged having adult role models, but 53% of fourth and sixth graders said they did.