Report finds Moffat County Youth low risk of dropout, high risk for mental health issues, binge drinking | CraigDailyPress.com

Report finds Moffat County Youth low risk of dropout, high risk for mental health issues, binge drinking

Communities that Care offers a way for members of the community to work together to prevent youth problem behaviors including substance use, delinquency, teen pregnancy, violence and dropping our of school.

CRAIG — A report released Feb. 9 by Communities that Care is expected to help the community come together and better support Moffat County youth.

"Moffat County students report having many opportunities for pro-social engagement — anything that is a positive activity, such as sports, activities, positive youth gatherings," said Amanda Ott. "They also report a higher-than the national average for depression and anxiety, substance abuse and lack of commitment to school, which the CTC Community Board has chosen as risk factors of focus for the next phase of work."

The results of the 2017 Moffat County Communities that Care Assessment show how Moffat County youth compare with their peers on the state and national levels.

"The results provide insight into the challenges faced by the children in our community.  All the factors that affect our students can be seen in our schools," said Moffat County School District Superintendent David Ulrich.

Results for the study of Moffat County students were consistent with results from youth across the Yampa Valley, according to Ott.

The study drew data from several sources, including the following.

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CTC Youth Survey: Administered in May 2017 to children in grades six, eight, 10 and 11 attending Moffat County High School and Craig Middle School.
Healthy Kids Colorado Survey: Administered in fall 2015 to all Craig Middle School and Moffat County High School students.
Monitoring the Future 2016 Survey of eighth and 10th-grade students across the nation.
The National Dataset: the norm — kept by researchers at Bach Harrison.

After analysis of the data, the Communities that Care Data Workgroup focused on key strengths, risk factors, problem behaviors and protective factors.

Strengths

• Across all four grades surveyed, students felt there were more opportunities in Moffat County for pro-social involvement compared to the national average.
• The Moffat County High School dropout rate is 1.7 percent, which is lower than the 2.3 percent average for the state of Colorado.

Risk factors

These measures predict youth problem behaviors, including substance use, delinquency, teen pregnancy, violence and dropping out of school.

Depressive symptoms — Moffat County Students reported feeling depressed or anxious 11 percent more often, on average, than their peers, as compared to the national average.

Commitment to school — Despite the low high school dropout rate, Moffat County 10th-graders had a 73 percent likelihood of indicating a low commitment to school. More than 50 percent of students in 11th grade felt at risk of academic failure.

On average Moffat County students across all surveyed grades were 25 percent more likely than their peers to respond "never" or "seldom" when asked if they enjoyed being in school and how often they felt that assignments were meaningful and important.

Perceived risk of drug use —Moffat County students were, on average, 14 percent more likely than their peers to respond that there was "no" or "a slight" risk to using drugs and alcohol when compared to the national average.

The overall age of onset of using alcohol, cigarettes and marijuana in Moffat County is about 13 to 14 years old.

When asked if they would use drugs when they are older, more than 60 percent of sixth-graders responded “yes,” a little less than 55 percent of 11th-graders responded “yes,” a little less than 54 percent of 10th-graders responded “yes” and about 33 percent of eighth-graders responded “yes.”

Problem behaviors

Youth were asked about their use of alcohol in the past 30 days and throughout their lives.

"Lifetime alcohol use is viewed to be a measure of experimental use and past-month use is viewed to be a measure of more regular use," according to the CTC Moffat County Community Assessment Report.

At least 50 percent of youth in grades eight and higher reported having tried alcohol, but not as many had used it in the past 30 days.

When alcohol use by eighth- and 10th-graders was compared to the national average of their peers, CTC found lifetime use among eighth-graders to be more than double the national average and more than 43 percent higher than the national average for 1oth-graders.

Eight graders were a little less than 5 percent more likely, and 10th-graders about 13 percent more likely to have consumed alcohol in the past 30 days than their peers, when compared to national averages. About 38 percent of youth in Moffat County felt there was "no risk" or a "slight risk" of consuming one or two alcohol drinks every day.

"If students believe they will experience no or very little negative consequences from drinking, it only serves to encourage alcohol use," concluded the CTC Moffat County Community Assessment Report. "Along with the high use rate of alcohol among teens in Moffat County, there appears to be a good deal of binge drinking — five or more drinks in a row — behavior."

A little more than 5 percent of sixth-graders and a little less than 35 percent of 11th=graders reported binge drinking. When asked about being offered an alcoholic drink at a party, almost half of 11th-graders and close to 40 percent of 10th-graders indicated they would accept.

"Many times, binge drinking occurs at parties," according to the CTC Moffat County Community Assessment Report. "Encouraging parents to find out whether there will be alcohol served at the parties their children attend and having discussions about what to do when offered alcohol may help lower those numbers."

Protective factors

Protective factors buffer children from risk and help them succeed in life. Students were measured on their perceptions of the rewards for pro-social involvement in their community, their family, their school, their peer group and as individuals.

They were asked questions such as, "What are the chances you would be seen as cool (among your peers) if you worked hard at school, defended someone who was being verbally abused and regularly volunteered for community service?"

On average, Moffat County students scored 10 percent lower for these protective factors than their peers, when compared to the national average. However, the report also showed the dropout rate among high school students was lower and that protective factors for gang involvement and opportunities for pro-social involvement were higher than national averages.

"As a district, we have partnered with Amanda Ott, Communities That Care facilitator, and other local health care professionals to determine how best to use the data to improve outcomes for our students," Ulrich said.

The next step in the process is for CTC to begin assessing the resources, including programs, policies and strategies that exist in Moffat County to help support youth.

"Miracles are happening in our schools every day. Our staff works with all students, regardless of the risk factors or lack of protective factors to make their lives better. We also have a group of health professionals who are working together to improve on these factors throughout the community, as well," Ulrich said.

CTC is a connected group of people collaborating to provide youth in Moffat County the support they need to succeed by strengthening and supplementing existing prevention work to reduce alcohol and substance use, violence, crime and other problematic behaviors.

The program is administered by Northwest Colorado Health in Craig and funded through the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment using marijuana tax education fund dollars.

The complete report can be obtained by calling CTC coordinator Amanda OTT at 970-870-4101.

Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.