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New Survey Results Give a Window Into Teen Behavior and Risks
Date:3/17/2009

Survey includes information on alcohol, tobacco, and drug use

OLYMPIA, Wash., March 17 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A new survey of Washington students shows most are making good choices about their health. Still, far too many regularly use alcohol, tobacco, drugs, and engage in risky behavior.

The Healthy Youth Survey focuses on health risk behaviors. The anonymous voluntary survey is taken every two years by more than 210,000 public school kids around the state in grades six, eight, 10, and 12. It covers many topics young people face -- drug, alcohol, and tobacco use; weapons in schools; gangs; gambling; physical activity; suicide; bullying; and more.

"This survey is a snapshot of what's going on with youth in our state," said Secretary of Health Mary Selecky. "We're working hard to help kids make the right choices for their health. When they develop healthy habits early in life it provides an excellent foundation as they become adults."

Overall, drug use, alcohol use, tobacco use, and obesity rates haven't changed much since the last survey in 2006. Still, there's cause for concern. Almost one in five 10th-graders reported having five or more drinks in a row at least once in the past two weeks. About one in 10 students in 10th and 12th grades say they used a prescription painkiller to get high.

"Because their brains are still developing, kids who use alcohol and other drugs are at much greater risk for addiction and other problems than adults," said Stan Marshburn, interim secretary of the state Department of Social and Health Services. "It's important for parents to set clear rules, talk with their children starting in elementary school, and keep at it through their teens." Parents can get proven tips on how to talk with their kids (www.StartTalkingNow.org)
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SOURCE Department of Health; DSHS/Division of Alcohol and Substance Abuse; Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction; Community Trade and Economic Development; Liquor Control Board
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