Ah adolescence, the time in life where exploration of the body and mind shape young people into the adults they are quickly becoming. Like a modern day Lewis and Clark, middle schoolers are setting their sights on uncharted territory. But rather than trekking across the nation on horseback, they are experimenting with drugs, alcohol and cigarettes.A
The 2013 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey shows the number of preteens and teenagers who are experimenting with substances, as well as bullying, suicide and even tracking how often they wear helmets and seat belts.
The most glorious part of the survey, is the way they broke down the data into different regions in addition to finding the state average. This gives parents, teachers, concerned adults and even the adolescent the ability to compare their health report to the other parts of the region or state as a whole. Not that it’s a competition, but if it were, we’d bet a little money that Boulder County’s children exceed the state average on kid’s health.
The survey covered more than 220 schools in the state, surveying more than 40,000 students throughout Colorado, and for the most part our bet would be a winning one, as BoCo middle schoolers remain healthier than the state average.
For example, among students who ride a bicycle the state average of students who rarely wear a helmet is 58.7 percent, but BoCo students who rarely wear a helmet is only at 28.1 percent, a 30 percent difference in the healthy direction. But that seems trivial compared to the other statistics sprinkled throughout the report.
The state average of students who have ever smoked a cigarette, including only one or two puffs, is at 9.6 percent. But BoCo exceeds that with an even smaller number with 5.6 percent. Only 0.5 percent of BoCo students have smoked a cigarette during the last month. However, one percent of students have used chewing tobacco, dip or snuff in the last thirty days. And even though the percentage of smokers is so low, 23.5 percent said that they know an easy way to get cigarettes.
The trend continues with students who have drunk alcohol, smoked marijuana or tried other prescription drugs. All the data show that BoCo students are a bit smarter, or less explorative, than the state average. But students think it would be easy to obtain these items, while students statewide think they would have a harder time.
But the entire report didn’t turn out with BoCo students prevailing over the state average. When it comes to bullying, BoCo seems to be a bit more aggressive. When we say bit, we mean bit, as 47.9 percent of students in BoCo reported bullying while only 47.4 percent was the state average.
But what is more alarming is the significant difference when the bullying takes place online. It’s no surprise that preteens use social media for everything. Throwing out hashtags on selfies forever immortalizing their every thought and experience, no matter how mundane or controversial.
According to the report, BoCo students turn to their smart phones or computer more so than the state average, with 25.1 percent of BoCo students experiencing cyber bullying, while the state average stands at 22.7 percent.
But even though bullying seems to be more of a problem, middle schoolers are keeping it verbal or electronic as only 28.4 percent of students have been in a fistfight. The state average of middle schoolers who have been in a fistfight is 10 percent higher than that.
Overall, Boulder County middle schoolers are exceeding their peers in leading a healthy lifestyle. Parents pat yourselves on the back, but keep an eye on your children.
As we stated earlier, the survey does a great job breaking down into subsections and this includes separating middle schoolers from high schoolers, and from the results BoCo teenagers are more explorative, naturally.
While only 14.3 percent of middle schoolers have drank, that number quadruples with 60.5 percent of high schoolers who have drank one or more days in their life. Thirty one percent of those students had drunk in past 30 days. Of course, we aren’t surprised that the numbers are higher. It’s all part of growing up, isn’t it?
It could also be the pressure put on by peers, even if the pressure is a perceived notion of how their peers are acting. The survey showed that 83 percent of students think that fellow students have drank alcohol one or more times in the past 30 days.
The real shock is the number of high schoolers who have drank on school property in the past 30 days, which stands at 2.4 percent. That number grows nine percent when asked if they drink in a public setting or while in a car. And five percent of students have driven a car after drinking.