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13% of Ripon juniors have used inhalants

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POSTED November 13, 2009 4:43 a.m.

RIPON - Ripon Unified students scored better than the county and the state in many categories that measured seventh, ninth, and eleventh graders in the California Healthy Kids Survey used to monitor student substance use, violence, school safety, student nutrition and exercise.  

The survey results from Ripon junior high level and high school students are compared to data from schools in San Joaquin County as well as from California.  The survey is required in a biannual assessment of the health habits of children in grades 7, 9 and 11 under the federal No Child Left Behind directives.

Sheri Coburn, director of Comprehensive Health Programs from the San Joaquin County Office of Education made her report on the survey this week to the Ripon Unified School District Board of Trustees.

Coburn warned of binge drinking by youth,  because of its high impact on the higher thinking levels of the brain.  And, she identified the first year of high school – the ninth grade – as being a high risk year for students. It is a great time for the unknown to be faced by students, she said.

The seventh graders taking part in the survey reported using cigarettes during their lifetimes by nine percent of their number, alcohol 15 percent, marijuana 4 per cent and inhalants 5 percent. The data represented 170 seventh graders or about 65 per cent of the students at that grade level.

Ninth-grade students reporting lifetime use of substance abuse included 12 per cent having smoked cigarettes, 40 percent having used alcohol, 13 percent with past marijuana use and five per cent who have used inhalants.    The data represented 129 ninth graders or 56 per cent of the total class size.

Thirty-four percent of high school eleventh grade students reported having used cigarettes, 72 per cent had used alcohol, 39 per cent had used marijuana and 13 per cent reported past use of inhalants. The survey represented 131 eleventh graders or 59 per cent of the total class.

Seventh-grade students were then surveyed on their substance use in the past 30 days.  Cigarette use was at two per cent; alcohol use at 10 per cent; marijuana use at one per cent and inhalants registered at two per cent of the class.

High school ninth grade survey for recent 30 days substance use put cigarettes at seven per cent of the class, alcohol at 22 per cent, and marijuana at eight per cent and inhalants at two per cent.

High school eleventh grade students acknowledged eleven per cent  using cigarettes while 45 per cent had used alcohol,  and 22 per cent had made use of marijuana and two percent had a history of inhalant use in that 30-day period.

Another survey question asked students “how many days in a row” they had five or more drinks of alcohol within a couple of hours.

The percentage of seventh graders was recorded at two per cent. The ninth graders reported nine per cent of their number and the eleventh graders totaled 30 per cent alcohol usage.

The next question in the survey asked how many times students were offered, sold or given an illegal drug in the past 12 months.

Seventh graders reported five per cent of their number had such an offer.  Ninth graders said 21 percent of them had been offered or given illegal drugs, and 35 per cent of the eleventh grade class had been offered illegal drugs on school property.

A question on guns on school property asked students how many times they carried a gun onto school property.

The seventh grade section of the survey reported one per cent of its students had actually brought a gun to school in the last 12 months.  Ninth graders – four per cent of them – admitted to having brought a gun on campus and eleventh graders had four per cent of their number who had brought a gun onto school property.

In a similar survey question students were asked whether or not they had carried another weapon – such as a knife – onto campus over the previous year.  Seven per cent of the seventh graders said they had,  and 12 per cent of ninth graders said they had also carried a weapon onto the school grounds.  Four per cent of the eleventh graders noted in the survey that they had also brought a weapon onto campus.

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