What Does Our Local Data Tell Us About Underage Drinking?
SpeakUP! Executes Prevention Strategies Using A Data Driven Approach
Across the state of Illinois, schools are offered the opportunity every two years, free of charge, to administer the Illinois Youth Survey to students in 6, 8, 10, and 12th grades. This survey corresponds to a national survey given to millions of students each year. Survey questions include attitudes and behaviors about alcohol and drug use, school activity participation, nutrition, and other issues facing youth. Results are completely anonymous.
In 2012, Lake Forest High School, Deerpath Middle School and Lake Bluff Middle School participated in the survey. Many other schools in Lake County and hundreds of schools in the state will also participate in the survey. SpeakUP! employs a high level evaluation team from Community Systems Group to help us analyze these results and drill down into actionable steps.
So what does our data tell us? The dashboard graphs and brief explanations below will help you understand the basics. For a more detailed explanation, click here to view a video presentation from our coalition staff.
First, our results clearly reveal that alcohol is by far the drug of choice among our youth, and there is a dramatic progression of usage from 6th grade to 12th grade. The most pronounced increase in use occurs between 8th grade and 10th grade.
Binge Drinking, defined as the consumption of five drinks in a row on one occasion in the past two weeks, is also a concern among our youth, even among youth as young as 8th grade. The level of binge drinking is lower than other schools in Lake County in middle school, and higher than schools in Lake County overall once our students reach high school.
Also concerning is how students access alcohol. Our data tells us that our students are not getting alcohol from grocery stores, restaurants, or other retailers. Rather, the great majority of our students access alcohol in their own home – oftentimes due to a decrease in parental disapproval. The chart below illustrates that underage drinking increases as parental disapproval decreases. In our community, a 10% decrease in parental disapproval leads to a 23% increase in underage drinking.
In 2008, over 700 parents participated in an on-line survey on Issues Affecting our Youth. A summary of the findings are available by clicking here.
- The majority of parents are very concerned about their kids and:
- Drinking & Driving
- Binge Drinking
- Alcohol Use by Teens
- Stress & Anxiety
- Having Sex
- Peer Pressure to Do Risky Things
- Depression and other Psychological Problems
- Most respondents agree that parents have the primary responsibility for teaching youth about drugs, alcohol, sex but a significant number of respondents said the schools have this primary responsibility.
- The majority of parents don’t want kids to drink, even when they reach 16+, and most do not feel that it is okay for kids to drink at home.
- Nearly 45% of respondents believe local kids take their first drink in Middle School, and 62% believe that regular teen alcohol use starts in high school.
- 75% responded that they believe the majority of local teens start being sexually active in high school.
- There is some confusion about the relative level of alcohol in beer vs hard liquor (many believe beer has less alcohol, which is not true), and whether alcohol is a stimulant (it is actually a depressant).
- Most respondents don’t know that European youth have more problems with binge drinking than American youth.
- The majority of respondents think that lowering the drinking age should not be a strategy we use to address underage drinking, but 46% believe that it could be part of the recommended strategy. For more information on this, go to the coalition position paper on this issue.
- Things people think we should do:
- Crack down on stores or restaurants who provide alcohol to kids
- Prosecute adults who provide alcohol to kids
- Educate parents on the risks of underage drinking
- Increase education on risky behavior in schools
- Enforce laws that penalize parents for serving or failing to supervise teens
- Develop additional alcohol free things for kids to do.
For the complete summary, click here.