Students to take drug use survey

Students in Seymour’s middle school and high school will be asked to share their experiences with drug, alcohol and tobacco without getting in trouble.

The district plans to participate in the annual Indiana Youth Survey this winter. The surveys are completed by students anonymously, and their answers are included in data gathered from across the state.

Seymour has participated in the survey, conducted by the Indiana Prevention Resource Center at Indiana University in Bloomington, since 1993.

Students do not have to participate but are asked to answer honestly if they do. Out of 1,113 surveys completed by Seymour students last school year, 1,031 were considered usable, according to local school officials.

“There’s no reason for students not to tell the truth,” Seymour High School Vice Principal Catherine DuBois said.

Formerly known as the Annual Survey of Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Use by Indiana Children and Adolescents, the results help determine how many students are using drugs, alcohol and tobacco, how often and at what age they start.

“Prior data has shown a strong connection between adolescent depression, suicidal behavior and substance abuse, and as a result, the state is trying to better understand the prevalence of drug use and other mental health concerns among Indiana’s youth,” DuBois said.

Results also help identify what positive factors in a student’s life may help prevent such risky behaviors.

The survey includes questions about electronic cigarette use, gambling and mental health.

The 2015 results showed high levels of electronic cigarette use among students in grades 7 through 12 statewide.

“The survey allows the school to identify the concerns that are directly impacting our community,” DuBois said. “While the state provides feedback, there are differences regarding rural, suburban and urban risk factors. The data provided allows our community to identify our specific needs.”

Seymour students will take the survey Feb. 23. Results won’t be released to the schools and the public until the fall, typically the first of September.

“The information is shared with our administration and board, law enforcement, Schneck (Medical Center) and other health agencies, Jackson County Drug-Free Coalition and other agencies with interest and impact on the youth of Seymour,” DuBois said.

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January Rutherford is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. She can be reached at jrutherford@tribtown.com or 812-523-7069.