OTTAWA — Putnam County administrators and law enforcement gathered Thursday to review results from a survey that was completed in 2017 by students grades six, eight, 10 and 12 on topics of drug use and mental health.
Putnam County Task Force For Youth, an organization who conducted the survey, held the meeting at the Putnam County Educational Center where survey results were presented. The task force has been in existence since 1993 and is a grassroots effort to work towards the elimination of substance abuse and promotion of positive behavioral health and safety among Putnam County youth.
The Pride survey was answered by 1,496 students to help determine what type of programming is necessary to help students.
Beth Tobe, Pathways Counseling Center prevention coordinator, went over statistics from the study.
“We want to keep an eye on alcohol in the county and our drug numbers with the students are pretty low,” Tobe said.
According to the survey, the average age is 13.8 for students who started using alcohol and live in Putnam County.
In 2015, kids were waiting until they were 14.2 before they started drinking alcohol.
“That is not the direction we want it to go but with programs hopefully we can get that number back up to over 14,” Tobe said.
Marijuana use for those age groups in the county is at age 14.4 when kids start using marijuana and it was 14.7 in 2015.
“Marijuana use in our county is way below the national average,” according to Tobe.
Tobacco use for the age group in the county is at age 14.6 in 2015, the same number as 2017.
Nancy Kline, task force member, provided information on the percentage of parents who are talking to their children about the use of tobacco, alcohol, marijuana and prescription drugs.
“There are over 92 percent of parents of eighth graders who are telling their kids using alcohol is wrong,” Kline said. There are 81 percent of high school seniors who are saying in the survey that alcohol use is wrong or very wrong to use.
Violence indicators were addressed in the survey with 16.7 percent being afraid in school, 13.8 percent threatened by a fellow student, 13.6 percent being hurt at school, 11.11 percent getting in trouble with police, 5.3 percent thinking often or a lot about suicide and 3.3 percent participating in gangs.
Joan Kline, Putnam County Health Department health educator, provided survey statistics regarding student’s health.
The survey asked during the past 12 months, did the child ever seriously consider attempting suicide and the results said 11.2 percent said yes and 88.8 said no.
The survey reported 15.6 percent students ate the recommended five or more fruits or vegetables a day, 55.8 percent ate the food two to four times a day, 24.2 one time a day, 2.6 percent do not like fruits or vegetables, .7 percent cannot afford fruits or vegetables and 1.1 percent do not have access to fruits or vegetables.
“We wanted to have a better understanding of their diets and we are not shocked that most kids are not getting the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables. We are working with our community health plan to address this,” Joan Kline said.
Reach Jennifer Peryam at 567-242-0362.