OXFORD — The use of alcohol, tobacco and marijuana by Oxford Hills students has decreased over the past decade, but use of inhalants is up, according to a youth health survey released by SAD 17 educators this week.

“A major concern is sniffing inhalants,” district Health Coordinator Pat Carson said.

She and high school health teacher Jen Cash presented the results of the 2013 youth health survey to the SAD 17 Board of Directors on Monday. The survey was  taken by Oxford Hills middle and high school students and showed progress in many areas, but some disturbing trends in others, he said.

According to the results, over the 13 years since the survey has been administered, Oxford Hills students have shown a decrease in smoking, marijuana use, early onset of marijuana use, teen binge drinking and bullying. The teenagers have increased their physical activity at the middle school and increased fruit and vegetable consumption at both schools.

However, Carson said, areas of concern include teenage inhalant use, ease of access to marijuana and young teenage prescription drug use, among other items. Carson and Cash said while those numbers show a decrease in activity, some are still above the state average.

For example, smoking has decreased from 25 percent to 18 percent in the past 13 years for high school students, but it is still higher than the 2013 state average of 12.9 percent.

Carson said he is also concerned about some students using marijuana before the age of 11.

“What can we do as a district?” he asked.

Carson said he also was concerned about the percentage of high school students who are overweight or obese. Sixteen percent are considered overweight and 21 percent obese, he said.

“It’s significant,” he said.

Cash said the use of the $1 million-plus Carol M. White Physical Education Program grant in 2011 has allowed the district to purchase new equipment, including a new health center for the high school, and skis, snowshoes and kayaks to increase physical activity.

Additionally, the district has created summer and winter programs at the Roberts Farm Preserve in Norway that provide fresh vegetables for school meals. New Balance has also provided a physical education grant to enhance district curriculum.

SAD 17 director Jared Cash said he was concerned about some of the results.

“I think we’ve got to get real,” he said. “I don’t think parents really know this is the usage.”

The survey is conducted every two years and is given to schools throughout the state.

[email protected]

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: