Vail Daily column: Youth survey an important resource
November 6, 2015
Moving into a new home brought a whole new problem: Mice! In the span of two weeks I had laid out 12 traps and managed to catch 10 mice in the act of invading my wonderful new home. That's a statistic of 10 out of 12 or 83 percent success rate of mouse traps to mice. Stats don't matter until they are in your own home, even more so if it's a problem.
You probably don't care about mice or my home for that matter. Yet if you had 10 mice running around in your home, it would probably become an issue. You may not care about teens and their alcohol use if you don't have a teen or your teen is one of "the good kids," until you know someone who gets in an alcohol-related accident. You may think the legalization of marijuana is great considering it's illegal for youth, until your teenage babysitter mistakenly eats your special cookies and then drives home nearly creating an accident and waking up the next morning not even remembering how or if they drove home.
While we tend to stay focused on what is going on in our own home, many of us probably see what teens are up to these days. Consider these statistics that will help you understand some of the issues youth are facing. These are a direct result from the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey given to high school and middle school students in 2013.
• Thirty-six percent of students said that they had used alcohol in the past 30 days. This is actually an improvement from 2009 when it was nearly 50 percent.
• Two out of three high school students think it is wrong for someone their age to drink alcohol regularly.
• Ninety percent of middle school students think it's important to finish high school.
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• Forty-three percent of youth think it would be easy to get marijuana if they wanted some.
When assessing risk of use, 61 percent of youth grades seventh-12th think there is no risk or slight risk of people harming themselves if they use marijuana.
In early November, your student will most likely have an opportunity to participate in the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey. The survey takes place every other year and is an invaluable resource to our community about youth behavior and perceptions about what everyone else is doing. If you are a school administrator, thank you! Thank you for making it possible for 100 percent of participation of Eagle County Schools. Surveys like this are only successful if they have consistent data from a large sample of people. Eagle River Youth Coalition has been administering this survey with incredible accuracy since 2007, and this track record ensures increasingly reliable data with each new year. One-hundred percent participation also means that we will have a broad representation that truly reflects all of Eagle County students, not to mention the acknowledgment from national entities in regards to a community working together. If you are a teacher or administrator in a classroom, thank you for helping with your administration of this survey in your classroom. If you are a student, then please take this seriously. The information you provide is anonymous and bogus responses will be a waste of your time and removed from the results. If you are a parent, then please talk to your student about their experience with this survey. More important than stats or information is a loving home with parents who care about these issues before they become a fill-in bubble on a survey.
Eagle County is an amazing place to live and raise a family. Our community is here to help and through our community efforts, this survey has brought in more than $2 million to help fund many youth programs, education and enforcement. This is one excellent tool in the larger picture of Eagle County that will help raise up the next generation of exceptional leaders. Let's keep the unwanted stats, or even worse, the causalities and heartbreaking incidents, out of our homes and our neighborhoods. Thank you for your participation in the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey.
Jason Platt is on the Eagle River Youth Coalition board of directors and is also the Trinity Church Youth Pastor.
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