Schools, addictions, mental health and other organizations discussed startling statistics for youth alcoholism and drug use in Prince Albert, at a meeting Monday afternoon.
The final version of a study by University of Regina Police Studies graduate Jason Fenno, showed that out of 921 youth surveyed, 54 per cent reported engaging in binge drinking by age 16. Sixty-eight percent of students in Grade 10 reported binge drinking compared to 49 per cent of students across Canada.
Out of the 5,600 people arrested and held overnight by police for public intoxication between May 2009 to 2012, 552 were youth.
Some trends reported are positive, however, said Fenno, author of the study. Youth in Prince Albert seem to have a higher average self-esteem, he said.
“(They) felt more connected with their schools, and they felt safer at their schools than the province or the nation (in) comparison,” he explained.
Fenno is giving his research to the Community Mobilization program in Prince Albert (CMPA) to help create a community-wide alcohol strategy for youth.
“This could hopefully be used to better help the programs that are in place in PA, to help youth who have issues with alcohol and drug use, and help formulate programs to get youth away from (them) sooner,” he said.
Strengthening early intervention, education, recreation and sports programs to help youth stay off of drugs and away from gangs are possible ideas, said Fenno.
In the 19 years she’s worked for Addiction Services in the Prince Albert Parkland Health Region, Glenis Clarke said this is the first time she’s seen data of this nature.
“One of the most important things is to recognize that the data isn’t right or wrong, it’s simply reality,” said Clarke. “We have an opportunity to work towards improving that data and making our community safer for families and children.”
Clarke, who’s part of CMPA, said the data provides a solid understanding of what organizations thought they knew about youth in the community.
“It helps guide us as to how we can move forward with our programs in working together,” said Clarke. “Maybe to start new initiatives or support existing initiatives that can focus on addressing or improving the numbers with our children.”
On Twitter: @brynhadubiak
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