Underage alcohol and teen tobacco use has gone down.
But just like their peers across the state, more Thurston County teenagers are smoking marijuana, according to the Healthy Youth Survey 2012 results released on Thursday.
According to the voluntary and anonymous survey that was conducted last fall, marijuana use has climbed among Thurston County 10th graders from 15 percent in 2006 to 22.2 percent in 2012. Statewide, 19.3 percent of 10th-graders reported using marijuana or hashish within 30 days of the survey.
In addition, nearly half of the countys teens surveyed say they see little or no harm in smoking pot occasionally.
Were seeing kids who think using marijuana is risky at an all time low, said Jim Cooper, executive director of Together!, an Olympia-based nonprofit that works to prevent youth substance abuse and violence. In substance abuse prevention, thats called perception of harm.
When kids perception of harm goes up, their use rates tend to go down.
The Healthy Youth Survey is taken every two years by students in grades 6, 8, 10 and 12. More than 200,000 students -- representing about 1,000 public schools -- participated in the most recent survey, which asked students about safety, violence, diet, physical activity and drug use.
Other highlights in the survey:
*25.7 percent of Thurston County 10th-graders reported drinking alcohol, down from 30 percent in 2008 and compared to 23.3 percent of their peers across the state. *6 percent of the countys 10th-graders reported carrying a weapon at school, compared to 6.1 percent of their peers across the state. *12 percent of 10th-graders reported smoking cigarettes, compared to 9.5 percent across the state.
The survey results will be used locally and statewide to help shape policy and prevention programs, said Joe Avalos, Chemical Dependency Program Manager for Thurston County.
Well use them to help us focus on what were doing well, and what we need to improve on, he said. Specifically, prevention messaging toward youth on risks of marijuana use and alcohol use -- and getting the same messaging to parents.
Lisa Pemberton: 360-754-5433 firstname.lastname@example.org www.theolympian.com/edblog @Lisa_Pemberton