Pubdate: Thu, 07 Jul 2011
Source: Helena Independent Record (MT)
Copyright: 2011 Helena Independent Record
Cited: Student risk survey:


Montana high school students say they are drinking alcohol less 
frequently and using seat belts more when driving, but report being 
bullied more by fellow students, a survey released by the state 
Office of Public Instruction on Wednesday shows.

Half the students also said they had texted or sent e-mails while 
driving the previous 30 days, while 53 percent said they had talked 
on a cell phone while driving. It was the first time these questions 
have been asked in the survey.

The survey also notes that the number of high-schoolers who have used 
marijuana in their lifetime is down from 42.2 percent in 2009 to 39.2 
percent in 2011.

The Youth Risk Behavior Survey polled 4,148 high school students in 
46 randomly selected Montana high schools in February. It's compiled 
from a 93-item questionnaire developed by the Centers for Disease 
Control and Prevention.

The self-reporting survey of students is administered by the state 
Office of Public Instruction in February of odd numbered years, under 
a cooperative agreement with the CDC.

State Superintendent Denise Juneau said the survey "reminds us how 
important it is to continually engage youth in frank conversations 
about risky behaviors."

"It also gives us an opportunity to confront our biggest challenges 
in ensuring the safety of our young people and highlights the efforts 
of effective programs whose messages are reaching students," she said.

The survey found significant decreases in alcohol abuse by high 
school students since 2009.

The percentage of students who said they have had at least one drink 
of alcohol during the past 30 days dropped to 38 percent this year 
from 43 percent in 2009 and 58 percent in 1999. Likewise, the 
percentage of students who reported binge drinking, or having five or 
more drinks of alcohol in a row, during the past 30 days dropped to 
25 percent this year from 30 percent in 2009.

There was no change in the percentage of students who reported using 
methamphetamines during their life. The 2011 survey found that 3 
percent had used meth, the same percentage as in 2009, but it was 
down from 14 percent in 1999.

Results showed that 13 percent of students said they never or rarely 
wore a seat belt when driving a car, or about the same percentage as 
in 2009, but down from 20 percent in 2003.

The percentage of students who drove a car after drinking dropped to 
11 percent in 2011, down from 12 percent in 2009 from 22 percent in 2001.

Those students who have tried cigarette smoking dropped to 44 percent 
in 2011, down from 50 percent in 2011 and 70 percent in 1999.

For the second year in the survey, students were asked about bullying 
and cyber-bullying. In 2011, 26 percent of students said they had 
been bullied on school property the past 12 months, an increase over 
the 23 percent in the 2009 survey.

Nineteen percent said in 2011 they had been electronically bullied, 
such as through email, chat rooms, instant messaging, websites or 
text-messaging the past 12 months. That's up from 18 percent in 2009.

"Bullying continues to remain a major issue for Montana students and 
requires actions by administrators, teachers, parents and 
policymakers," Juneau said.

The number of high-schoolers reporting marijuana use in their life 
peaked in 2001 at 46.7 percent. That number dropped to a low mark of 
39.1 percent in 2007 before rising a bit to 42.2 percent in 2007 and 
falling again at 39.2 percent this year.

Those who said they've used marijuana during the past 30 days dropped 
to 21.2 percent in 2011 from 23 percent in 2009. The peak year in 
that category was also 2001, at 27.1 percent.

However, the percentage of students who said they were offered, sold 
or given an illegal drug on school property during the past 12 months 
increased to 25 percent in 2011, up from 21 percent in 2009 but down 
from 30 percent in 1999.

Montana voters in 2004 approved a ballot measure allowing the use of 
medical marijuana.

Asked for the first time about prescription drug abuse, more than 18 
percent of high school students reported taking a prescription drug 
without a doctor's prescription.

As for sexual behavior, 48 percent of students reported they had had 
sexual intercourse, about the same figure as in 2009 and an increase 
from the 43 percent in 1999. Nearly 35 percent said they had had 
sexual intercourse during the past three months, an increase from 32 
percent in the 2009 survey.

Of those currently sexually active, 62 percent said they used a 
condom during their last sexual intercourse, down from 68 percent 
from 2009. About 21 percent of sexually active students said they 
used birth control bills before their last sexual intercourse, down 
from 27 percent in 2009.

The 1999-2011 Montana High School Trend Report can be found here:
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom