Pubdate: Thu, 31 Jan 2002
Source: Nevada Appeal (NV)
Copyright: 2002 Nevada Appeal
Author: Teri Vance


Fewer Nevada teens are smoking cigarettes, but more are smoking marijuana 
since 1993, according to a study released by the state Department of Education.

It's a trend that did not surprise Carson High School senior Ash Dauenhauer.

"Smoking (cigarettes) is a lot worse because pot's not addictive," he said. 
"People who smoke seem to kill their bodies a lot faster, but I'm no doctor."

A tennis player and member of student council, Ash said he would be more 
likely to associate with other teens who used marijuana than those who 
smoked because marijuana does not have the same stigma.

"It's semi-common," he explained. "It's not something that everybody does, 
but a lot of kids have at least tried it."

Sex among high school students has also declined, according to the "Nevada 
Youth Risk Behavior Survey," based on responses from thousands of high 
school and middle school students in 2001.

"I'm glad it's dropped," said Carson High School's student body president 
Megan Petterson. "I think everyone is just more aware -- AIDS is a reality."

However, she said the number may still be too high.

"I know a lot of kids are sexually active," she said. "Sometimes they just 
use it as an excuse as something to do."

Jack McLaughlin, state superintendent of public instruction for the past 
year, said the survey shows risk-taking among Nevada youth "at unacceptably 
high levels."

For instance, cocaine use has also risen since 1993, inching up to 6 
percent from 4 percent. But violence on school campuses has declined.

Drug sales on school campuses apparently rose. The report said 35.7 percent 
of the high school students said somebody had offered, sold or given them 
an illegal drug on campus. That's up from 31 percent in 1999 and 30 percent 
in 1993.

In the 1993 survey 58 percent of the students said they had sexual 
intercourse. That fell to 49 percent last year. And the use of condoms has 
risen from 53 percent to 62 percent during the eight-year period.

The report in 1993 found 10 percent of the students had been pregnant or 
had gotten someone pregnant. That's down to 6 percent in 2001.

The survey also found 9.2 percent of the high school students said they 
have been forced to have sexual intercourse; and 19.6 percent of high 
school students said they seriously have considered suicide.

The 1993 survey found 27 percent of Nevada students considered suicide, and 
6.5 percent tried to kill themselves. Nationally, 33 percent of high school 
students said they considered suicide in 1993.

The question about whether students had been forced into sex has been asked 
since 1999. That year, 10 percent of the students said they had been forced 
into sex.
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