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School survey shows decrease in drug use

By Staff
Kim West
In its monthly board meeting Monday morning, the Franklin County School Board of Education heard an overall encouraging report on drug use based on a voluntary survey taken by approximately 1,335 county students in grades 6-9 last April.
The Title IV Safe and Drug Free Schools and Communities survey questioned students anonymously and allowed them to answer a variety of questions about the use of tobacco, marijuana and alcohol. They were also queried on their perceptions for drug risk, parental disapproval and availability and when and where students use drugs.
Nearly 40 percent of students who reported drug use said their parents "never" or seldom" talked to them about drugs, while more than 50 percent of reported drug users said they had "never" or "seldom" attended church.
Compared to last year, students in grades 6-8 reported a 2.9 percent drop in marijuana use, while grades 9-12 had a 1.2 decrease. Tobacco use decreased 1 percent among grades 9-12, while it increased .7 percent in sixth through eighth grades. The biggest jump was related to alcohol use, which had a 3.3 overall increase in grades 6-12.
"Each principal received a disc copy (of the results) at the principal's meeting in August and were encouraged to share the results with their teachers and staff because each school had individual results," said Cynthia Forsythe, a county coordinator who oversees the Title IV program. "The report compares the (2006-07) results to 2007-08."
Forsythe said the county will work with the Russellville Police Department to decrease drug use on school campuses with drug dog searches of school parking lots, where drugs may be stored in student vehicles.
"This report gives us an idea where students use drugs," she said. "We have been working with the Russellville Police and Chief (Chris) Hargett, and at no cost, we're going to be seeing the drug dog quite a bit (at the schools).
"We're hoping that it will be a deterrent because our goal is not to catch students, but to keep drugs out of the schools and away from the other kids."