Kate Nowak: Moffat better than state in student risky behaviors

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Kate Nowak

A recent survey of Moffat County kids shows that our kids are less likely to participate in sexual and drug-related behaviors than their statewide peers.

OMNI Institute, a nonprofit social science research agency, recently released the 2012-13 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey for Moffat County. The purpose of the HKCS is to provide schools and communities with information to develop an understanding of youth attitude and behaviors and identify assets or problem areas among youth in our community. The report is used by the school district, nonprofits and the community to partner in reducing the access to risky behaviors and increase the protective factors that could influence our youth.

The survey was given to sixth through 12th grade students, ages 12 through 18. Survey results are for the total county with Craig Middle School representing 51.4 percent and Moffat County High School 48.6 percent. Seventy-five percent of total school enrollment in October 2012 took the survey.

OMNI states when the response rate is 80 percent or greater, one can be very confident that the data reflect the experiences of the population being assessed. Moffat County survey response rates were between 90 and 99 percent. The survey offers a glimpse into healthy and unhealthy behaviors of our children in Moffat County. Survey results provide interesting reading for local parents concerned about the sexual, drug and alcohol-related behaviors of their children.

Sex

When it comes to sexual intercourse, Moffat County kids are more active than their peers across the state. Only high school ages were asked about this subject. Forty-four percent of Moffat County students said they have had intercourse compared to 40.8 percent statewide. The percentage grows from 28 percent for freshman year students to 67 percent for high school seniors. Statewide, the range was 22.8 percent of students in ninth grade to 61.1 percent in 12th grade. The most common age that Moffat County children first have sexual intercourse is 15 years old starting in 10th grade versus statewide of 13 years of age.

Alcohol

Twelve percent of the survey respondents reported drinking alcohol one to two days during the last 30 days. In comparison, the state total respondents were at 36.4 percent. In Moffat County, a high percentage of boys in 10th grade reported drinking alcohol within the last 30 days.

When asked how old they were when they first began drinking alcohol regularly, the most common answer was 13 to 14 years of age. The statewide age in 2011 was the same at 13 years of age.

How do youths obtain alcohol? Eight percent said someone gave it to them. Where do they drink? Mostly at their home (17 percent) or at another person’s home (17 percent). Four percent said they drove after drinking, and 12 percent rode with a drinking driver. This is less than the statewide compilation survey results, which state almost 6 percent drove after drinking and 21.8 percent rode in a car with a drinking driver.

Marijuana

Eighteen percent of students responding to the survey said they have tried marijuana at least once in their lifetime. This is significantly lower than the statewide number at 39.5 percent. When asked how many times they used marijuana in the last 30 days, 90 percent said none versus 78 percent in the state.

Sixty-one percent said it was very hard/sort of hard to get marijuana. In contrast, the state survey reported 42.8 percent students said it was difficult to get marijuana. About the same percentage of students drove (4 percent) after using marijuana than alcohol and 8 percent rode with someone who had been using marijuana. Results from the 2011 statewide survey indicate higher percentages; 11.3 percent drove a car and 23.6 percent rode with a driver under the influence of marijuana.

In summary, Moffat County students are less engaged in risky behaviors than those of their statewide peers. To view the full report, contact Grand Futures Prevention Coalition at 970-824-5752.

Kate Nowak is the executive director for Yampa Valley Data Partners, a 5013c nonprofit whose mission is to strengthen our communities through collaborative partnerships and providing relevant, timely, accessible data to decision makers.

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