The Park Record editorial, November 3-5, 2010 |

The Park Record editorial, November 3-5, 2010

Publicizing student-risk survey results can empower the community

Kudos to the Park City Board of Education for releasing a local breakdown of results from the statewide Student Health and Risk Prevention Survey. In years past, some school boards have tried to squelch that information, fearing it would reflect badly on the community.

In our view, though, knowledge is power. In this case, learning how many students have been exposed to alcohol, cigarettes, marijuana and/or illicit use of prescription narcotics gives parents and educators an opportunity to constructively address the problem.

As feared, the survey results indicate that the use of alcohol, cigarettes, marijuana and prescription drugs by Park City youth is higher than the state average. Significantly higher. For instance, according to the survey, 83.4 percent of Park City’s 12th graders that were polled have used alcohol, more than twice the state average of 36.9 percent. The number drops to 62 percent among 10th graders but is still double the state average for their contemporaries.

Some might argue that there are a lot of statistical and cultural mitigating factors that might have skewed the survey. Nevertheless, the numbers can, and should, be used as a benchmark for local efforts aimed at reducing teen alcohol use. And that is why we applaud the school board’s decision to share the information with the community.

In fact, the news is not all bad. Across the board the 2009 risk survey results for Park City are down from the previous survey in 2007. Awareness and education likely contributed to that decrease. Add a renewed community-wide commitment and the numbers could go down even more. That entails enforcement and buy-in from every segment of the city, especially those that sell or serve alcohol, and those who prescribe and/or dispense prescription drugs. We would also include those who officially and unofficially counsel teenagers, i.e., coaches, teachers, parents and other local role models like our esteemed Olympic athletes.

The Park City School Board has taken the first step by recognizing that it is more important to protect our kids than our image. The next steps are up to us.