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Drinking study reveals hard facts

Some Shen students enjoying festivities at an After Prom Party hosted by CAPTAIN. The parties have been a tradition for 28 years, and are billed as a safe way for students to celebrate. A survey from the Shenendehowa Community Coalition has revealed trends in drinking amongst students above the national average. Photo submitted.

Some Shen students enjoying festivities at an After Prom Party hosted by CAPTAIN. The parties have been a tradition for 28 years, and are billed as a safe way for students to celebrate. A survey from the Shenendehowa Community Coalition has revealed trends in drinking amongst students above the national average. Photo submitted.

— Thirty one percent of high school seniors in the Shenendehowa Central School District engage in binge drinking, well above the national average of 22 percent.

That’s according to a study conducted by the Shenendehowa Community Coalition. The study, which began lastyear and is still ongoing, is examining aspects of teen alcohol use, including where teens get and drink alcohol and the consequences of their actions. A similar, smaller study was conducted by the coalition in 2008. Last week, the group shared some of their findings thus far.

According to Evan Williamson, the Shenendehowa Community Coalition coordinator, the study is being done with the help of a Prevention First-NY! SPF-SIG (Prevention Framework State Incentive Grant) federal grant received by the coalition last year. The $800,000 grant is for three years.

“The first step was to collect data, and that was done through community surveys of adults in the area and focus groups of kids and adults,” said Williamson.

Student surveys were given in physical education classes over two days last year to approximately 500 teens at each grade level in the high school.

In addition to student surveys, approximately 1,100 community surveys were received from businesses and organizations like the YMCA. Surveys were also made available throughout the community at libraries and through the School News Notification System.

While surveys supplied data, focus groups revealed the “more anecdotal” information, according to Williamson. Focus groups mirrored information given in the surveys, most importantly calling attention to where teens are drinking.

“Kids in the focus groups reaffirmed what the survey said, that drinking in the Shenendehowa area happens at home. With parental knowledge or not,” said Williamson.

He added one of the most common ways teens get alcohol is through a friend or acquaintance over 21.

According to study results, 48 percent of juniors and seniors reported having gotten alcohol at a party, 41 percent from an acquaintance older than 21, and 33 percent obtained alcohol in a home without parental permission.

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