At Tuesday night’s Town Council meeting former CASA Executive Director Any Epstein and the new director LeighAnn Eruzione presented the results of the 2018 Prevention Needs Assessment, a survey given to Winthrop students in Grades 6-12.
The survey included questions about drugs, alcohol, mental health and safety.
CASA (Community Action for Safe Alternatives) surveyed 733 enrolled students back in April.
It showed lifetime marijuana use down overall, but those students who have used marijuana in the last 30 days remained steady with a slight decline from 2015.
Regarding alcohol, about 45 percent of the students have had a drink in their lifetime and just over 30 percent had had one in the last 30 days. But there has been a slight uptick since 2015 in the percentage students who binge drink (Consuming five drinks in a row in a short amount of time.)
Checking on mental health, the survey found that over 40 percent of students think “I am no good at all” and almost 40 percent of felt sad or depressed most days. Just over 20 percent felt “life is not worth it.” Just over 16 percent had considered suicide, up slightly from 2016. There was also a rise in the number of students, almost 30 percent, who felt sad or hopeless for at least two weeks.
The survey also addressed sexual health and found that sexual activity is on the rise, as is the use of condoms compared to the 2016 survey. Dating violence was also noted with about 18 percent stating they were forced to have sex.
In regard to bullying, middle schoolers felt it more than those in high school. In turn almost 50 percent of middle schoolers think it’s cool to defend someone who was being verbally abused at school.
“Bullying in the middle school is going up,” Epstein said.
The survey also points out the protective factors students have, including school activities outside of the class, how often they can speak to a teacher one-on-one and teachers for the most part notice and acknowledge a job well done.
Eruzione said CASA has a triad response to the survey, involving school, community and home. She noted that CASA has hired a youth program coordinator. A grant regarding opioid use has also been applied for.
“CASA and the Chamber of Commerce are also working on job skills and training for youth.” Eruzione said.