By Andrew Mitchell
This past week the Whistler For Youth organization released its second community assessment report, and found that the community has a long way to go to prevent drug and alcohol abuse, violence, delinquency, drop-outs, teen pregnancy, depression and anxiety.
The latest report comes from a survey of 376 Whistler students in Grades 6 through 12, as well as other data compiled by the group.
On the positive side, initiatives to bond youth to their family, school, community and peers have been successful so far, with a stronger recognition of the importance that families and schools can play in positive development.
However, drug use remains an area of high concern in Whistler, with the regular consumption of alcohol, marijuana, cigarettes and other drugs “at unhealthy levels.” The 2006 survey also found an increase in the use of crystal meth, ecstacy, cocaine and tobacco use since the last survey in 2004.
Tips for recognizing and acting on these types of drugs are on the Whistler Community Services Society website at www.mywcss.org/wfy.htm .
Surveys have also found that the parents and the community itself are too permissive when it comes to certain behaviour and drug use.
To that end, Whistler For Youth is looking at ways to change attitudes, policies, tax rates, and local bylaws to create a new set of norms.
For example, WFY believes that businesses can monitor the content of their own advertising in terms of the message the ads send to youth.
WFY is also developing several new programs using research on successful community approaches, targeted at the community of Whistler as well at youth. They are also planning another survey in 2007 of young adults aged 18 to 26.
The latest survey results and recommendations round out the second assessment of programs to identify and reduce risk factors. The second set of recommendations will be visited by the board later this spring.
One of the programs created after the first assessment, Second Step Violence Prevention Parenting Program, has been considered a success. The next cycle of the program gets underway in September and is free of charge.
To book your space in the program, contact Christine Buttkus and 604-932-7543.