From the Superintendent: Student Wellness and PA Youth Survey
May 24, 2019
Focus on Student Wellness Continues with Community Focus Groups, Overview of PA Youth Survey Results
Dear Radnor Community,
With our new schedules now set for next school year, I want to remind families that helping our adolescents get more sleep is just one step in further supporting our students’ health in all grades, K-12. Over the course of this school year and addressing a goal set by our School Board, district staff members and other stakeholders have also been studying Student Wellness in general in Radnor. You can learn more about this study here. As a reminder, we are hosting several community focus group meetings to discuss the most important findings from the study. The times and locations of the meetings are listed at the end of this message.
Most recently, a progress update was presented at our May 14 Curriculum Committee meeting. You can view the presentation here and the video of the meeting here. Part of the presentation included an overview of the results of the Pennsylvania Youth Survey (PAYS). Sponsored by the PA Commission on Crime and Delinquency, the survey asks students to report on their drug and alcohol use as well as mental health. Just over 1,000 of our 6th, 8th, 10th and 12th graders took the survey in November 2017. The survey was last administered in RTSD in 2011.
Whenever we ask students about their experiences with drugs or alcohol, we prepare ourselves for the reality that certain answers might be revealing. We also know certain areas will be cause for optimism. Lastly, we know the survey, like all other measurements standing alone, is but one data point in the assessment of our schools and students.
When comparing the results of the 2017 and 2011 surveys, we see a decline of substance use in many categories and a significant decline in the selling of drugs on school grounds. The 2017 results show a delay in the onset of substance use for our 6th and 8th graders and a lower level of marijuana use among 8th and 10th graders than the state and nation. Our students also reported a higher level than the state in involvement in “pro-social activities,” such as volunteering and organized community and family activities, with 75% of our students surveyed reporting a strong sense of family attachment.
Like most school districts across the country, we must contend with a major negative trend for this generation’s students: vaping. The 2017 survey results reported higher use of vape devices than the state and national rates for our 8th, 10th and 12th graders and a higher rate than the state of vaping marijuana concentrate or hash oil for our 10th and 12th graders. We have already begun tackling this issue through various informational campaigns for students and parents as well as preventive measures put into place at our schools.
The survey also uncovered an area of focus concerning student-reported alcohol use. All grades surveyed had an average lifetime use of alcohol percentage higher than the state, and our 10th and 12th graders reported binge-drinking rates that were more than double state and national rates. According to the PAYS, there are several “risk factors” that increase the likelihood of a young person getting involved in drug and alcohol use. At Radnor, the three highest risk factors identified were “Parental Attitudes Favorable Toward Antisocial Behavior,” “Rewards for Antisocial Behavior,” and “Perceived Risk of Drug Use and Favorable Attitudes Toward Drug Use.” Interestingly, 46% of students surveyed reported feeling that their parents actively or passively support substance use. According to the PAYS, “when parents have permissive attitudes toward drugs and/or alcohol, students are much more likely to engage in problematic behavior.”
Currently, we have many resources available to support all our students. I encourage anyone who has a concern about a student who seems to be struggling or having health issues to reach out to our counselors. Our children are our most precious resource, and every educator in Radnor wants to do everything possible to keep them safe and healthy. As a community, we need to continue to discuss these topics and work together for the success and health of all Radnor youth.
We appreciate the Radnor community's continued support of our schools. Thank you for taking the time to read this message.
Kenneth E. Batchelor
Superintendent of Schools
STUDENT WELLNESS COMMUNITY FOCUS GROUP MEETINGS
Tuesday, May 28, 9-10 a.m.
RTSD Administration Building
Monday, June 10, 9-10 a.m.
RTSD Administration Building
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