Inspired by a little-known picture book from the pen of Bethany Tudor, this is a diary, of sorts, where I document some of my thoughts, activities, and ideas as I explore the challenges met by the characters in the story: hard work, the care and nurture of others, housekeeping skills, life changes, charity, community, and cooperation, among others. Like Samuel and Samantha, the ducks in the tale, I struggle and succeed, cope and celebrate, work and play, handling the tasks that come my way. I invite you to join me on my journey.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Area Youth Survey

Yesterday, my local newspaper released a copy of an area youth survey that was taken by the health district earlier this year in order to get a picture of the “prevalence of substance abuse, as well as youth’s perceptions towards alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.” Well, the bureaucrats got their snapshot and, frankly, I find it disturbing. Here are a few highlights from the Executive Summary of the report:
- The use of anabolic steroids, probably for bodybuilding, may become an issue in Ledyard, as 10% of 8th graders reported having tried them in their lifetimes, and 5% had used them in the previous 30 days.

- When asked about reasons for starting, “to have fun” was cited for marijuana.

- The main reasons for starting to drink were “to fit in with friends” and “to have fun.” About one-third of 7th graders and almost half of high school youth reported having been intoxicated from drinking at least once, and many claimed to have been so 10 times or more. More than 40% of youth of all ages reported sometimes drinking at home with parental permission. The prevalence of Ledyard 11th graders who had ridden in the past year in a vehicle with a driver who had been drinking was 36% for girls and 47% for boys, considerably higher than national averages of 27-28%. [And this in a community that saw the alcohol-related death of a teenager in January 2007. For articles on that subject, click here and here.]

- Prevalence of cheating on a school test in the past year increased from 21% in grade 7 to 61% in grade 11, and the prevalence of the perception that cheating is “not at all wrong” increased from 5% to 25% over the same grades.

- Self-concept was confident and positive for about 80% of youth.
I find this last quote quite bewildering. Given the previously mentioned statistics, it almost begs the inflammatory generalization, “I drink, do drugs, and cheat, but I still feel good about myself.” Talk about a disconnect with reality or, at the very least, a misguided foundation for the formation of self-esteem. Something is definitely rotten in Denmark, as the saying goes.

I am not yet finished with an initial read-through of the entire report. When I complete it, I may write more about my concerns. For now, I am just thankful that I live in a country where I have the freedom to homeschool because, in my opinion, the public school environment in my area sounds pretty unhealthy.

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