Pubdate: Tue, 20 Nov 2001
Source: Expositor, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2001 The Brantford Expositor
Author: Vincent Ball
Bookmark: (Youth)


BRANTFORD _ A recent health survey has provided some disturbing insight 
into the lifestyles of some young people in Brant, Haldimand and Norfolk, 
says a top health official.    Dr. Doug Sider, Brant County's medical 
officer of health said he found the results of

the survey both "sobering" and "shocking" especially with respect to basic 
nutrition and healthy sexuality.

"Something like this causes us to reflect back on our own youth and I found 
it sobering and shocking to learn that many students, especially older ones 
don't even have breakfast before starting school," Sider said. "It also 
raises questions about health sexuality when you have students saying 
someone's first sexual experience occurs when they are under the influence 
of alcohol or drugs."

The survey didn't specifically ask if the students had had sex.

The results, he added, show a great deal of work needs to be done in the 
schools to promote healthy lifestyles and underscores the importance of 
developing programs that address the needs of young people.

The survey also raises some important questions because some of the 
information it has generated is at odds with other established data 
concerning young people, Sider said.

Most of the grades 7, 9 and 11 students who participated in the survey 
indicated that it was "very likely," that they would use a condom if and 
when they had sex.

"That's an indication of their intentions but given that we have a high 
rate of teen pregnancies and the spread of sexually transmitted disease 
among young people, we have to question if their intentions are carried 
over into their actions," Sider said.

The survey was conducted by the Brant Health Unit and the Haldimand-Norfolk 
Health Unit between September 1999 and April 2000. It included about 1,800 
Grand Erie District School Board students in grades 5, 7, 9 and 11 in 
Brant, Haldimand and Norfolk.

The survey found that 18 per cent of the students surveyed were drinking 
weekly by grade 11 and more than a third of them are drinking more than 
once or twice a week.

Other findings include:

- - 31 per cent of grade 11 students who smoke pot used the drug 40 or more 
times in the past year.

- - students who smoke pot are much more likely to smoke cigarettes.

- - about 40 per cent of grade 9 and 11 students surveyed indicated that they 
thought people their age first had sex because they were under the 
influence of alcohol and other drugs.

- - about 80 per cent of grade 7, 9 and 11s indicated it was 'very likely' 
they would use a condom if and when they had sex.

Still, while the results of the survey may be "sobering," they also provide 
some much needed insight into the behaviours and choices being made by 
young people in Brant, Haldimand and Norfolk.

Prior to the survey, little was known about the behaviours and choices 
being made by young people in Brant, Haldimand and Norfolk.

"These findings should help us with the planning and development of future 
programs," Sider said. "We now have a better understanding of lifestyle 
choices and behaviour among local youth."

Information from the survey will be used to help develop the Brant County 
Health goals, he said.

Health agencies in Brant including the health unit and the Grand River 
District Health Council are in the process of developing health goals for 
the area.
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