Editorial: “Youth survey includes promising results”

Boze chronThis Bozeman Daily Chronicle Editorial was originally published Oct. 2, 2015.

“The most recent Youth Risk Behavior Survey, conducted by the state Office of Public Instruction, had some encouraging news.

The rates at which Montana high school students smoke, drink and use illegal drugs continues to decline. In fact, those rates are down significantly from the 1990s, and some rates have dropped by quite a bit, in just the last few years.

But it wasn’t all good news. The survey also found that the rate of obesity among students has increased significantly.

Students reported in the most recent survey that 13.1 percent of them had smoked tobacco in the last month, down from 30.7 percent in 1993, while daily smokers dropped from 9 percent to 2.2 percent. Only a little over a third of the students reported drinking alcohol in the last month, down from 55.7 percent in the same period. And only 3 percent of the students reported trying meth, down from 13.5 percent in 1999.

The survey was taken by 4,500 students from 49 high schools around the state. OPI officials caution that, even though students’ responses are anonymous, there may be a tendency to under report what is considered to be bad behavior and over report good behavior. But assuming that tendency is consistent over time, the numbers indicate a positive trend in substance abuse.”

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