Monday, February 20, 2012

Study: Many teens use alcohol at home with parents’ OK

This is very concerning to me, I attended Bonneville High, I knew about the parking lot crew but never was Bonneville High known as the party school.  Just lately there was a drug bust at this school. Where 8 kids were arrested for drugs.

I have a niece and a nephew who will be attending Bonneville High. I know they have learned in their homes the important about staying away from drugs and alcohol and have great support. But what about their friends homes have they learned the same.

We all need to keep are kids safe and away from the dangers this stuff can cause which effects not only their safety but their ability to learn. These kids are tomorrows leaders. I would say it is NOT ok to use alcohol at home or anywhere at this young age.

By Gentry Reinhart

Standard-Examiner correspondent

Sun, 02/19/2012 - 8:27pm

Parental attitudes contribute to teen substance abuse problems in the four cities that send students to Bonneville High School, according to a local woman who has studied the situation.

Amy Mikkelsen is director of the Bonneville Communities That Care coalition, which spent four months gathering data to identify the top five risk factors for teens in Washington Terrace, Uintah, Riverdale and South Ogden attending sixth to eighth grades.

The coalition works to reduce substance use, delinquency, school drop-outs, violence and teen pregnancy.

In her research, Mikkelsen said she was most surprised to see the attitude that some parents have toward teen drinking.

“That was really alarming to me,” she said. “There was a very high percentage of youth that reported using alcohol at home with parents’ permission.”

Mikkelsen fears that parents aren’t being clear with their expectations for drug and alcohol use, instead assuming that their standards are clear and understood.

“I think a lot of times, as parents, we assume that of course my kid knows I don’t want them to use alcohol or get involved in violence,” she said. “But they’re not necessarily talking to their kids about it.”

Inhalant abuse among sixth-graders in the four cities is double the state average, according to the coalition report released this week.

The study found the drugs most commonly used by teens are alcohol, marijuana, tobacco and prescription drugs.

The full report will be available for the public within the next week at the Communities That Care website,

“As far as substance abuse, we are higher than Weber County,” Mikkelsen said. “And we’re above some of the state averages as well.”

The four cities formed an interlocal agreement last spring to help fund the coalition. A Weber-Morgan Narcotics Strike Force raid in mid-November at Bonneville High School resulted in the arrests of nearly a dozen students on drug-related charges and gave the coalition impetus to complete its tasks.

Another concern was an increasing relaxed perception of gateway drugs like marijuana. The report said 18 percent of 10th-graders and 23 percent of 12th-graders admitted having smoked pot.

“We’re seeing that opinion changing, probably because it’s being legalized in several areas, and maybe parents don’t think it’s that harmful or dangerous,” she said. “And in turn, the kids don’t think it’s that big a deal.”

The report also emphasizes the role academic failure plays in the likelihood of teens doing harmful activities. Mikkelsen said not addressing even common problems, such as difficulty with reading, as early as third grade can exponentially raise the risk of unhealthy behaviors.

Data for the report was gleaned from the SHARP (Student Health and Risk Prevention) survey — a biannual survey administered to youths in grades six, eight, 10 and 12 every odd-numbered year — and archival data from the community to build a comprehensive view of the area and the challenges facing youths in their daily lives.

The report outlines protective factors, such as opportunities and rewards for pro-social involvement, a strong moral code and strong family involvement to help reduce problem youth behavior.

Mikkelsen said the next steps are to assess programs that already address the priority risk and protective factors and to focus on reducing substance use among youths.

The coalition of representatives from Weber-Morgan Health Department, Bonneville High School, Weber School District and Juvenile Court wants to find and fill the gaps in services or programs.

Finally, they intend to find programs or strategies that have been shown to be tested and effective in addressing the priorities that are not already being addressed. The group will write a community action plan and look for state and federal funds to help pay for the programs.

The nationally implemented Communities that Care framework was developed by Drs. David Hawkins and Richard Catalano at the University of Washington. It’s based on their extensive research that identifies specific risk factors that are predictive of problem behaviors and protective factors that buffer youths from those risks.

The Bonneville chapter was established in April 2011, and Mikkelsen encourages anyone in the area to get involved in making the community a better place.

“The more it gets out there, the more people we’ll have saying ‘what is that?’ ” she said. “And that leads to more involvement and participation.”