Pubdate: Fri, 13 Oct 2000
Source: Cincinnati Post (OH)
Copyright: 2000 The Cincinnati Post
Author: Randy Ludlow


COLUMBUS - An increasing number of Ohio high school students are popping
open beers, smoking cigarettes and using cocaine.

The disturbing trend emerged Thursday from the Ohio Youth Risk Behavior
Survey completed by 2,061 students in the ninth through 12th grades at 55
public and non-public high schools.

"It's troubling, but not a surprise. We've seen this trend coming. Kids are
experimenting, getting high or drinking a few beers on the weekend and don't
realize it will lead to problems later.

"They all think they are indestructible," said Stacey Frohnapfel,
spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services.

When compared to 1997 results, the 1999 survey of teen-agers shows:

Fifty-six percent drank alcohol within the past month, up from 46 percent.
Thirty seven percent drank heavily once or more during the past month, an
increase from 30 percent.

Forty percent smoked cigarettes within the past month - up from 34 percent -
with 30 percent smoking two or more cigarettes daily, up from 25 percent.
Seventy-three percent said they had tried cigarettes.

Twenty-six percent smoked marijuana within the past month (nearly
unchanged), but those reporting at least one-time cocaine use rose from 4.6
percent to 7.8 percent. Thirty percent were offered, given or sold drugs on
school property, up from 28 percent.

Intense efforts to educate elementary school pupils about the threats posed
by drugs, alcohol and tobacco are paying off with studies showing decreased
substance abuse by fourth-, sixth- and eighth-graders, Ms. Frohnapfel said.

"But, we have to redouble our efforts toward the adolescents," she added.

The 96-question, multiple-choice survey also found Ohio teens continue to
engage in sexual behavior that puts them at risk:

Forty-seven percent engaged in intercourse (a decline from 49 percent),
while 34 percent said they had intercourse within the past three months, the
same figure as 1997.

Forty-one percent did not use a condom during intercourse and 16 percent
reported having four or more sexual partners. The figures are nearly
identical to the 1997 survey.

The survey also showed students are more fearful of violence at school:

Eight percent skipped school within the past month because they felt
unsafe - double the 1997 figure - while 8 percent were threatened or injured
with a weapon at school during the previous year. Six percent carried a gun,
knife or club on school property during the past month, down from 8 percent.

The scientific sampling of teen-agers was sponsored by the state departments
of education, health and alcohol and drug addiction services and the Center
for the Prevention of Family and Community Violence.
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