All of Merrimack Safeguard’s strategies are based on data collected through:
• the Youth Risk Behavior Survey of 9th to 12th grade students every other year;
• the Middle School Parent Survey (January 2014);
• the Adapted Youth and Young Adult Survey of 7th and 8th graders (annually);
• and occasional community surveys and focus groups
One of the indicators of a community’s health is the age in which children begin to experiment with alcohol by drinking more than a few sips at a religious gathering. When Merrimack surveyed its high school students in 2009 through the nationally-known Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 17.1% of 9th and 10th graders reported having their first drink of alcohol before age 13.
This data point was alarming to Merrimack Safeguard because it meant that a significant number of our children – most likely in 7th grade or younger – were drinking alcohol. With many of our resources over the last few years concentrated on helping Middle School youth make positive choices, we are proud to report that number was reduced to 10.2% representing a statistically significant (p=0.01) decrease in the age of onset among 9th and 10th graders.
We have made great strides over the last several years but still have lots more work to do.
During a 2014 survey of Middle School youth and parents we learned that there is a communication disconnect in that 96.6% of 7th and 8th Parents indicate that they have clear rules about drug use (Q9, n116), while 39.12% of 7th and 8th grade students reported talking with at least one parent about drug use during the past 12 months (n570).
Reviewing Merrimack data from 2013-2014 indicates that: