Pubdate: Sun, 07 May 2006
Source: Belleville News-Democrat (IL)
Copyright: 2006 Belleville News-Democrat
Author: Mark Raeber, For the News-Democrat
Bookmark: (Drug Test)
Bookmark: (Youth)


Survey Shows More Kids Use Alcohol

O'Fallon Township High School students will not face  random drug
testing next school year.

Instead, they will receive a stern warning about booze.

About one-third of seniors surveyed in February said  they had used
alcohol within the last month. The result  led school leaders to dump
a proposal for random drug  testing of up to 75 percent of students
who participate  in sports and extracurricular activities.

Because the tests cannot catch alcohol use, school  leaders decided
they were not worth the cost.

"If we did a random drug testing program, we would  either catch
nobody or we would catch very few kids and  that means we would be
testing a whole lot of kids who  are not using and that is counter
productive in terms  of resources and time," said assistant principal
Jeff  Yates, who first raised the idea of random testing  after
attending a conference.

Yates said 1,951 students -- or 83 percent of the 2,341  students at
the high school -- completed the anonymous  survey.

"We were pleasantly surprised that drug use, including  marijuana use,
was lower than we anticipated and we  think the numbers are very
positive," Yates said.

Alcohol emerged as the drug of choice.

The survey showed 19 percent of the freshmen had been  drunk at least
once, 31 percent of the sophomores, 39  percent of juniors and 46
percent of the seniors. At  the national level, 58 percent of seniors
report having  been drunk.

The propensity was to drink at parties or at night with

"But the numbers that worried us the most -- and  whether or not these
are exaggerated I don't know --  are the claims kids make that they
use alcohol at home  with their parents' knowledge," Yates said.

Sixteen percent of the freshmen had drinks with their  parents'
knowledge. The numbers grew to 24 percent of  seniors.

"If that is true, that is a disturbing number of  parents who are
letting their kids use alcohol," he  said.

Cigarettes were behind alcohol for students reporting  at least
one-time use. Thirty-two percent of the  seniors had smoked, compared
to 50 percent nationally.

Marijuana was next on the hit parade, but again was  below the
national average. Nationally, 45 percent of  seniors have smoked pot,
but only 29 percent of  O'Fallon seniors had.

As for consequences, most students often said they  "couldn't remember
what happened" after using drugs or  alcohol.

Nearly half of the seniors reported being totally  clean. Just more
than 3 percent of the seniors reported  being addicted or using
multiple drugs.

The next task for faculty and staff members who have  been studying
drug use by students will be to explore  ways to reduce alcohol use.
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