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Parents concerned by youth survey results



Findings on alcohol and drug use shock many

Parent Advisory Council meetings have been dominated over the last few weeks by concerns surrounding a youth survey done earlier this year.

The survey questioned kids in Grades 6 through 12 about attitudes toward school, community, home and peers, and their use of alcohol and other drugs.

Some of the findings, while no different from the results of other surveys done in B.C. and across Canada, were shocking to parents.

One parent at Whistler Secondary’s PAC meeting this week said he was so concerned he spoke to his kids at length and told them he was prepared to leave the community if they thought it was a problem.

The survey was done last May and June by the Communities That Care project. Made up of over 40 community representatives from the police to the schools, Communities That Care uses an evidence-based program developed in the U.S. to help communities build positive, healthy futures for their youth.

The survey revealed that more than two thirds of local youths from Grade 6 to Grade 12 have used alcohol in their lifetime.

Almost half reported drinking in the 30 days prior to the survey date and almost a quarter reported smoking dope in the same period.

The survey also found that 59 per cent of youths in Grade 11 had come to school drunk or high at least once in the previous year. Overall 24.8 per cent of surveyed students from Whistler had done the same thing.

The survey, which questioned 355 of the 432 students in those grades, also showed that there is almost no anti-social behaviour by the youths in the resort, such as car theft, and that most had a strong attachment to their parents and their families.

However, one disturbing finding was the belief by students that their parents would not be that upset if they found out their kids were using drugs or alcohol.

"This framework gives us a risk and protective factor approach to preventing problem behaviours," said Deanne Zeidler, co-chair of the risk and protective factors steering committee for the project.

"This gives us specific information on our community which is linked to programs that work," Zeidler told parents at Myrtle Philip.

"The most important thing is not that we have the survey results. It is what we do afterwards.

"We want to move forward and protect our kids."

And what is important here, said Zeidler, is that the results along with many other pieces of information are giving the community a picture of what it looks like.

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