BELOIT – Vaping and smoking by Beloit teens has decreased since last year, while alcohol and marijuana consumption has increased, according to the 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) released by the School District of Beloit.
The survey was administered by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction and the district. Participation has as follows: 83% of seventh graders; 91% of ninth graders; and 17% of eleventh graders.
The most common substances used by high school students were alcohol, marijuana, vaping and cigarettes. The survey found 27% of students reported drinking alcohol in the past 30 days; 20% used marijuana; 6% used vaping products and 2% smoked cigarettes.
Use of alcohol and marijuana slightly increased from last year.
In 2018-2019, 27% of students consumed alcohol in the past 30 days, higher than 18.6% in 2017-2018.
In 2018-2019, 20% of students used marijuana in the past 30 days, higher than 16.72% in 2017-2018.
Use of vaping products and cigarettes decreased.
In 2019 6% of students used vaping products in the past 30 days, lower than 9.46% in 2018.
In 2019, 2% of students surveyed smoked, lower than 5.25% in 2018.
When asked how the district is addressing some of the substances issues outlined in the survey, School District of Beloit Interim Executive Director of Pupil Services Melissa Beavers said the district is one of 68 public school districts in Wisconsin to be a recipient of the Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse (AODA) grant.
“This has allowed the district to further its commitment to students by using our staff and program resources to continue developing a comprehensive AODA program that encompasses both prevention and intervention services and promote healthy behaviors in our students,” Beavers said.
As a result of the grant funding, Beavers said the district is fortunate to have a Youth Development Coordinator who dedicates a portion of her time to supporting the AODA needs of students. Additionally, the district has a strong partnership with Youth 2 Youth whose mission is to reduce substance abuse among youth and promote healthy lifestyles through education and advocacy.
“We recently worked collaboratively to update the district’s policies on vaping and are currently working with them to present info on vaping and the effects of marijuana to students and staff,” Beavers said.
Students receiving a first time AODA referral for drugs or alcohol, are receiving SBIRT (early intervention and treatment) from the district’s Youth Development Coordinator.
“Motivational interviewing is the premise behind SBIRT, with the hope of putting more of the responsibility and recognition on the student,” Beavers said “The district continues to be committed to linking resources from home, community agencies and school in order to meet the needs of all of our students.”
The mental health and well-being portion of the survey found 17% of high school students have seriously considered suicide in the past 12 months in 2018-2019. That is down from 19.7% in 2017-2018.
There were 21% of students who reported experiencing bullying on school property in the last 12 months in 2018-2019, down from 28.2% the previous year. Sixty four percent of students feel safe at school most of the time or always.
The survey also found 42% of high school students have lived in four or more residences in their lifetime; and 37% of high school students experienced hunger due to lack of food at home in the past 30 days.