Survey Finds Marijuana Use Up Among Teens

Discussion in 'Marijuana News' started by Superjoint, Jun 20, 2002.

  1. By Jenn Abelson, Globe Staff Correspondent
    Source: Boston Globe

    While more Framingham teenagers are using marijuana than three years ago, fewer are drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes, according to results from a survey of high school students.
    The study, conducted in December and released Friday, is the sixth by Social Science Research and Evaluation Inc. and funded by the Framingham Coalition for the Prevention of Drug and Alcohol Abuse.

    ''I think we still have a lot of work to do,'' said Margo Deane, executive director of the Framingham Coalition.

    According to the survey, 22 percent of high school students had used marijuana at least once in the past 30 days, up from 19 percent in 1998. In addition, 41 percent of teenagers surveyed reported using marijuana at least once in their lifetime, compared with 38 percent in 1998.

    Meanwhile, 33 percent of students said they drank at least once in the past 30 days, down from 36 percent in 1998. The number of students who said they've had at least one drink at some point in their lives jumped from 63 percent to 58 percent in 2001.

    The number of students who reported smoking cigarettes at least once in their lifetime also dropped, from 49 percent to 41 percent in 2001.

    Wayne M. Harding, of Social Science Research and Evaluation, said these rates of risky behavior mirror national trends: Marijuana use by teenagers is up across the country. But Framingham consistently registers percentages below the state and national averages.

    The voluntary and anonymous survey questioned students at Keefe Technical High School, Framingham High School, and the alternative high school. About 1,800 students participated in the survey, which had more than 100 questions and was adapted from large-scale national surveys designed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    ''The survey is promising, in that, by and large, we are seeing some leveling or declining statistics in terms of risky behavior,'' said Superintendent Mark Smith.

    For example, the number of students practicing safe sex has increased since 1998, with birth control pill usage jumping from 25 percent to 35 percent. Teenagers also reported increased use of condoms. Seventy-seven percent said they had used condoms the last time they had intercourse, compared with 75 percent three years ago.

    The percentage of students who said they had voluntary sex - 33 percent - has not risen since 1998. Smith said he still feels this statistic is too high.

    ''In general, I would like to see our young people less sexually active,'' he said.

    In addition to tackling teenage sex, community leaders are looking to address new problems affecting the area. This was the first year the survey asked about the use of ecstasy, a drug that has become increasingly popular with teenagers.

    According to the study, 3 percent of students reported using the drug at least once in the past 30 days, and 10 percent said they used ecstasy at least once in their lives.

    ''It's becoming more commonplace, and we need to address this,'' Deane said.

    Smith described the survey as ''a very sophisticated instrument that yields credible data.''

    In addition to risky behavior, the survey examined attitudes on violence and participation in school activities. Results from the study revealed an across-the-board leveling off of or decline in participation in school activities.

    For example, participation in music, band, and choir dropped from 17 percent in 1998 to 14 percent in 2001. Involvement in peer leadership also declined from 15 percent to 12 percent. Meanwhile, participation in student government and sports plateaued at 10 percent and 39 percent, respectively.

    ''Whatever data we get, even if it tells us something we would rather not hear, is good data,'' Smith said. ''It's better to know based on some scientific effort than it is to just put your head in the sand.''

    Officials from the school, police, and the Framingham Coalition met earlier this month to discuss the results from the survey. The meeting, Smith said, demonstrates that risky adolescent behavior is not just a school issue, but a community problem.

    Deane said she plans to use the data in a campaign to change views of social norms, such as the perception that all teenagers drink. The Coalition wanted to launch a marketing effort this year, but didn't get the grant money it needed for the project.

    Note: Fewer are drinking, smoking cigarettes; ecstasy use rising.

    This story ran on page B2 of the Boston Globe on 6/18/2002.

    Source: Boston Globe (MA)
    Author: Jenn Abelson, Globe Staff Correspondent
    Published: June 18, 2002
    Copyright: 2002 Globe Newspaper Company

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