Pubdate: Sat, 12 Oct 2002
Source: Edmond Sun, The (OK)
Copyright: 2002 The Edmond Sun
Author: John A. Williams
Bookmark: (Heroin)
Bookmark: (Youth)


No parent would like to believe that their child is involved in some sort 
of risky behavior - alcohol, tobacco or drug use, sexual activity or 
seriously considered suicide. Yet, statistics show Edmond youth are at risk 
for these very actions and some of the data is surprising.

One year ago, the Edmond Public Schools commissioned the Oklahoma County 
Health Department to administer the Youth Risk Behavior Survey to all 
Edmond public high school students. The results of that survey were 
presented at a community meeting attended by about 30 people Thursday night 
at the Santa Fe High School auditorium.

Epidemiologist Juli Montgomery presented the findings of survey questions 
asked of Edmond's ninth-through 12th-graders. The survey measured by grade 
and by gender if students have seriously considered attempting suicide in 
the past 12 months, ever had at least one drink of alcohol or five or more 
drinks, carried a gun in the past month, ever tried cigarette smoking, ever 
used marijuana, heroin or methamphetamines and if the student has ever had 
sexual intercourse.

Montgomery explained that the data in the sample survey has a margin of 
error, however, in some areas Edmond students ranked higher than the 
national average scores.

According to the report, nearly 40 percent of Edmond high school seniors 
have had episodic heavy drinking consisting of five drinks or more. One in 
five Edmond ninth-graders have seriously considered attempting suicide in 
the past year, just slightly above the same national group.

Nearly 11 percent of Edmond students have been threatened or injured with a 
weapon on school property in the past 12 months and just over 6 percent 
have carried a gun to school.

Thirty-five percent of Edmond students have reported to having four or more 
sexual partners in their lifetime as compared to just more than 16 percent 

Perhaps the most surprising statistic is that heroin use among Edmond high 
school students is three times that of the national average. Six percent of 
Edmond students admit using any form of heroin compared to just more than 2 
percent nationally.

More than 27 percent of female Edmond students first had sexual intercourse 
at age 15 with 16.3 percent having had intercourse at 14 years old. Of 
those students who most recently had sexual intercourse, nearly 40 percent 
used condoms while 19 percent used no method of birth control at all.

The panel, which included Paul Sinclair from the Edmond Police Department, 
who works as a resource officer at North High School, Judge Alan Synar, 
Janie Bates, director of Alternative Education, Shirley Speegle, a school 
nurse, Dawna Graham, student assistance counselor, and Carole Barsaloux, 
science curriculum consultant, answered questions after the presentation.

Sinclair said heroin is making a comeback as the drug of choice for high 
school students.

"It didn't shock me I'm sorry to say," he said when asked if he was 
surprised that heroin use was higher than the national average in Edmond. 
He said he believes part of the reason for its use is that heroin is easy 
to make and with the I-35 and I-40 interchange so close it makes the 
transportation of heroin easier in this part of the country.

Synar said the statistics in the survey are a true picture of what he is 
seeing in the courtroom.

"This is a great opportunity for us all," Synar said. He believes it will 
take a community effort - not just school and law enforcement - to make 
changes in the statistics.

Assistant Superintendent Brenda Lyons said, "our hope is that the community 
will use this information."

She said she has sent copies of the finding to Edmond Ministerial Alliance 
in hopes that they will work closely with the schools in reversing some 
trends. Lyons said the school system will make the finding a part of the 
district's student improvement plans.

"Hopefully, we can use this material to make things better," she said.

Copies of the report are available by contacting the Edmond school board 
administrative offices at 340-2800.
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