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Youth Risk Behavior Survey 2016 Results
GMS Youth Risk Behavior Survey
WHS Youth Risk Behavior Survey

Annual Report 2015-2016

Underage Drinking Myth vs. Reality

Myth:  “If we changed the minimum drinking age back to 18 instead of 21, it would reduce problems with underage drinking.”
REALITY:  Researchers consider the 21 minimum drinking age to be one of the most successful public safety & public health policies in United States history.  Since the minimum drinking age was changed to 21 in 1984, deaths from drinking and driving accidents have decreased by thousands, saving an estimated 20,000 lives.

Myth: “In Europe, youth drink more responsibly than in the US.”
REALITY:  According to data collected from 15- and 16-year-olds in 35 European countries, European kids actually drink more often, drink more heavily and get drunk more often than American teens.

Myth:  “At least alcohol is safer than other drugs.”
REALITY: Alcohol kills 6.5 times more youth than all other illegal drugs combined.

Myth:  “It’s okay as long as they don’t drive.  Most teen alcohol-related deaths are from drinking & driving.”
REALITY:  Only one-third of underage drinking deaths involve auto crashes.  The remaining two-thirds involve alcohol poisoning, homicides, suicides, and unintentional injuries such as burns, drowning, and falls.  Taking away the car keys doesn’t make underage drinking safe.

Myth:  “Kids are going to drink anyway- It’s a rite of passage.”
REALITY:  Contrary to popular belief, most kids don’t drink.  In Wakefield, anonymous student surveys show that the majority of teens—including 67% of 10th graders and 53% of 11th graders- have not consumed alcohol during the past 30 days.  Research shows that misperceptions that “everybody’s doing it” actually make young people more likely to drink alcohol.  On the other hand, when these misperceptions are corrected, and kids realize that “NOT everybody’s doing it,” they are less likely to drink alcohol.

Myth:  “It’s better for kids to start drinking young, so that they can learn how to handle it.”
REALITY:  Alcohol impacts a teenager differently than an adult because the adolescent brain is still developing- especially the part of the brain that deals with decision-making.  Drinking before the age of 21 places kids at higher risk for academic failure, depression, suicide, and sexual assault.  It also increases their risk for alcohol dependence:  Young people who begin drinking at the age of 15 vs. those who begin by age 21 are more than four times more likely to develop dependence.

Here is what parents need to know about E-Cigs and E-Hookah

According the 2014 Wakefield Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 22% of High School students reported using Electronic Cigarettes or E-Hookah, as opposed to 10% of youth who smoked traditional cigarettes in the past 30 days.

An electronic cigarette (e-cig) is a cylinder shaped metal and plastic tube attached to or containing a cartridge of liquid nicotine.  When activated, a battery heats the liquid nicotine, creating vapor which is then inhaled.  Rather than ingesting nicotine through “smoking” a combustible cigarette, a user “vapes” the vaporized liquid nicotine.

  • E-cig use among teens is sky rocketing
  • Most kids who use e-cigs do not smoke cigarettes
  • E-cigs contain nicotine which makes them highly addictive.  We don’t know what else they contain!
  • E-cigs and e-hookah are not regulated by the FDA
  • E-cigs come in fruit and candy flavors so they are especially appealing to kids
  • Advertising of e-cigs is unregulated- slick, racy and cartoon-type ads are appearing on TV and in the media
  • Wakefield has banned the sale of e-cigs to anyone under 21.

Now that you have the facts, talk to your teenager about this.  Find out their perceptions and remind them of your household rules.  Contact Maureen Buzby, Mystic Valley Tobacco Alcohol Program, 781-979-4158, mbuzby@cityofmelrose.org for more information.

Marijuana Trends & Signs: What Parents Need to Know

♦   37% of Wakefield High Students reported having used Marijuana in their lifetime (2014 YRBS)
♦   Today’s Marijuana is 300% to 800% stronger than in the past, the national average of
marijuana’s  THC content in 1978 was 1.37%, in 1998 4.43%, and in 2012 12.3%.
♦   THC stays in brain (primarily fat) for a very long time. Half life of 50% every 7 years

Effects:
• Can be mood altering, can cause paranoia
• Alters sensorial perception
• Lack of motivation and lazy attitude
• Chronic fatigue
• Negatively impacts the brain’s ability to store and retrieve of information

Signs of Use:
• If you find eye drops in your teens clothes or in the wash.
• You find bongs, pipes, or rolling papers.  Drug paraphernalia is an instant sign of drug use.
• Your teen uses a lot of incense, mouth wash, and air fresheners.
• Small burns or yellow stains on the thumb and index finger; caused by Marijuana residue.
• Sudden drop in academic performance.  Your teen went from A’s and B’s to C’s and D’s
• Your teen seems dizzy, has red blood shot eyes, and dilated (large) pupils

Prescription Drugs:
What Parents Need to Know

Unfortunately misuse of prescription drugs amongst teens has increased dramatically over recent years. When someone takes prescription medication in a manner not prescribed by a doctor it is illegal, dangerous, and sometimes deadly. Many teens believe that there is nothing wrong with using prescription drugs, and often think it’s a safer choice over illegal drugs. With more than half of teens reporting that prescription drugs are easy to obtain, parents should follow these suggested guidelines:

  • Safeguard all prescription medications in the household. Remove them from the medicine cabinet and place them out of reach of children and teens.
  • When a family member receives a prescription, ask the doctor or pharmacist if the medication has the potential for abuse. Keep control of all medications.
  • If your child must take a prescription during school hours, arrange for them to receive it from the school nurse. Make sure that all unused medication is returned to you.
  • Safely dispose of unused medications at the Wakefield Public Safety Building (1 Union St. Wakefield, MA)

It’s against the law:

  • Using a prescription drug in a manner that is not prescribed is against the law.
    • If your child has prescription drugs that are not his/hers, he/she could be arrested for illegal possession of drugs.
  • If your child gives his/her prescription drugs to someone else, he/she could be charged with illegal distribution of a controlled substance.
  • Possession or distribution of a drug on school property could result in stiff penalties and in some cases, a mandatory jail sentence.