Parents, schools take aim at drugs and alcohol

POULSBO — Despite the idealistic environment the North Kitsap area offers, it’s not immune to the dangers of drug/alcohol use by some of its children.

In an attempt to help curb a problem hovering right beneath the surface, a drug and alcohol prevention information night for parents of North Kitsap School District students has been slated 6:30-8:30 p.m. May 9 in the North Kitsap Auditorium.

Information about the types of drugs kids use, effects on the “teen brain”, what to do and how to get help will be provided.

“Every parent thinks, ‘It’s not my kid,’” NKSD community relations director Chris Case said. “Even if it’s not your kid, you should come because it might be another kid you know. I encourage parents to attend. There will be a lot of information available.”

Due to the explicit nature of demonstrations that will take place at the meeting, students will not be allowed at the session. However, Case encourages parents of students at all grade levels to attend.

“Drug problems can start before high school,” she said. “It can begin at elementary grade levels and middle school grade levels.”

Guest speaker Daniel J. Bissonnette, who’s a chemical dependency professional and the executive director of A Chance to Change, will be on hand to answer questions from the public during the meeting.

In October 2006, the Washington State Healthy Youth Survey was administered in schools throughout the state, following a sampling plan to ensure results were representative of students statewide.

Sixth graders, eighth graders and 10th graders were surveyed in the NKSD. Participation in the survey was voluntary and anonymous. A total of 1,285 valid responses were identified between the three grade levels participating in the survey.

The results were particularly alarming — especially regarding behavior toward alcohol.

According to survey results, between 17.6 percent and 21.2 percent of North Kitsap students reported being in a car with someone driving under the influence at least once during the past month (October 2006). In addition, 36 percent of eighth grade students started drinking at the age of 14 or younger. Research indicates that students who begin experimenting with or using alcohol before the age of 14 are significantly more likely to be alcohol dependent as young adults.

Also according to the survey, marijuana usage in students increases significantly between sixth grade and 10th grade. The results stated that 0.7 percent of sixth graders reported using marijuana in the past 30 days (October 2006) compared to 19.5 of 10th grade students.

In a fact that may surprise the general public, statistics in the survey show nearly one in five high school-aged students reported coming to school drunk or high at least one or more times in the previous year (2005).

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