Nov 10,2006 00:00
Bend Weekly News Sources
A new statewide survey of Oregon eighth- and 11th-graders reports disturbing data about the middle-schoolers' underage drinking -- but also some good news for parents.
The Healthy Teens survey conducted annually by the Oregon Department of Human Services found increased rates of binge drinking among eighth-graders, a larger share of eighth-graders saying alcohol is easy to obtain and significant numbers at both grade levels reporting negative consequences of underage drinking.
Contrary to popular belief that beer is the No. 1 alcoholic beverage consumed by teens who drink, eighth-graders reported they consumed, in order, hard liquor, flavored alcoholic beverages and beer. Eleventh-graders put beer second after hard liquor.
More than 13 percent of eighth-graders reported having engaged in binge drinking -- defined as five or more drinks in a row -- during the 30 days prior to responding to the survey, an increase of 15 percent over the 11.5 percent reported last year and 43 percent over the 9.3 percent who reported binge drinking in 2001.
"Everyone who wants to see kids healthy and successful should find some way to act on these numbers," said Bob Nikkel, DHS assistant director for addictions and mental health. "The good news is that parents who act by sending clear, consistent messages about underage drinking are making a difference."
Among eighth-graders who think their parents believe it's "very wrong" to drink beer, wine or liquor, almost 80 percent reported not having consumed alcohol during the prior 30 days. By contrast, among those reporting their parents believe drinking is "not wrong at all," only 30 percent had abstained. Comparable data for Oregon 11th-graders were 66.9 percent and 26.7 percent. The data are consistent with national surveys showing perceptions of parental attitudes affect teens' decisions.
Underage drinking is associated with school failure, unwanted teen pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, automobile crashes and other negative consequences.
Among other key findings:
• In 2006, the rate of eighth-graders reporting having consumed alcohol during the prior 30 days was 31.9 percent, the highest since 1997 when it was 35.5 percent. The rate among eighth-grade girls was 33.9 percent this year, highest since 1997 when it was 36.6 percent.
All Healthy Teens survey results are available at http://www.dhs.state.or.us/dhs/ph/chs/youthsurvey/ohtdata.shtml#2006 on the DHS Web site.