Survey: Fewer Students Abusing Alcohol & Drugs

Posted at: 01/22/2014 5:55 PM
By: Brianna Long

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- More Minnesota students are saying they don't take part in risky behaviors. That's according to the Minnesota Department of Health.

"I have a sophomore in college. I have a senior in high school at Century, a freshman at Century and then a seventh grader," said Rochester mom Tara Thomas. She says her kids have seen their share of peer pressure at school.

"I think as a parent you need to be aware that there's drinking and drugs out there," said Thomas.
But the use of those things seems to be going down. According to the latest Minnesota Student Survey, about 14 percent of ninth graders say they've had alcohol in the past 30 days. It was 18 percent last time the survey was conducted, and nearly 40 percent in 1998.

"I would say that kids are doing pretty ok. Many of the trends we have been tracking over time continue to point in the right direction."

Sheila Oehrlein, with the Minnesota Department of Education says each year, less and less kids say they are engaging in risky behavior.

"Drinking, smoking, smoking marijuana; there's been a lot of effort on educating people on the risks of those behaviors, trying to prevent them in the first place," said Oehrlein.
So far, it seems to be working; something Tara Thomas attributes also to parents simply talking to their kids.

"I think the more involved you are in your child's life and the more conversations you have with your child, I think the more that they realize how important their goals are. Whether it's grades, or participating in sports. They're going to know not to make those mistakes," said Thomas.  

The survey focuses on all kinds of things, but new this year, specific questions about bullying were added.

While most kids say they aren't bullied, the ones who are say it's because of things like their sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, or appearance.

Also new this year, fifth graders took the survey for the first time, I'm told that's because they wanted to give schools a glimpse into the struggles elementary students face.