Mercer Island Youth Drinking Less Alcohol, Study Finds

Mercer Island High School's 12th grade students are reporting decade-low levels of alcohol use.

A new survey of Mercer Island's youth confirms recent progress on reducing underage drinking, according to a joint press release from the Department and the .

Results from the 2012 40 Development Assets Survey corroborates data from two additional surveys that show underage alcohol use among Mercer Island High School 12th grade students is on the decline. The “Assets” Survey, created by the non-profit research company Search Institute, looks at multiple risk and protective factors that influence a child’s development, including rates of alcohol use.

Among the key findings of the “Assets Survey” are data that suggest 30-day alcohol use among seniors has decreased to the lowest rates in over a decade—approximately 45%, down from a high of almost 60% in 2000. Mercer Island Schools Superintendent Gary Plano said at a June 7 school board meeting that the number of seniors who said they have never used alcohol rose to 26 percent from 17 a decade earlier.

Mercer Island's teens are also reporting a higher-than-average number of assets — approximately 21 of the so-called basic building blocks of healthy development in their lives. The average young person surveyed experiences only 18 of the 40 assets, according to the Search Institute.

These results were shared with the city’s Youth and Family Services Department’s Communities That Care project as part of a city-school partnership that includes collaborating on underage substance abuse prevention efforts.

Lending to this number are similar findings from two independent surveys: the 2010 Washington State Healthy Youth Survey (HYS) placed past 30-day alcohol use by 12th grade students at 44% and the Mercer Island Communities That Care Coalition 2011 MOST Of Us Social Norms Survey (MOU) put the number at 47%. Not only do these finding represent a statistically significant decrease in alcohol use among seniors, but they may represent a shift towards more healthy social norms among students because seniors typically have a high degree of influence on substance use trends for underclassmen.

According to MISD Superintendent Dr. Gary Plano, “We are cautiously optimistic that the downward trend of underage drinking among our youth will continue in the coming years. I commend the efforts of the high school staff and the Communities that Care Coalition.”

“These results are encouraging because they represent a significant reduction in harm caused to Mercer Island teens from underage alcohol use. Although we now are confident that underage drinking rates are declining, they nevertheless remain unacceptably high and the community needs to continue to work together to address this significant threat to our youth,” said MIYFS Director Cynthia Goodwin.

For more information, contact Derek Franklin, Mercer Island Communities That Care Coalition Project Director at 206-275-7745, or Mercer Island High School Dean of Students and Activities Coordinator Jamie Prescott 206-236-3387.

(Ed. Note: Mercer Island Patch is a member of the Communities that Care Coalition)

Kendall Watson June 11, 2012 at 06:31 PM
In related news, US Surgeon General Regina Benjamin is coming to Seattle later this week to present a report on tobacco prevention among youth and young adults. The "Town Hall"-style meeting will be held on the Seattle campus of the University of Washington (Kane Hall) on Thursday, June 14, 2012.


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