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Prevention Team survey reveals substance abuse on the decline

Doug Terbeek, executive director of the Prevention Team, sees the need for continuing substance abuse education in the county.

Doug Terbeek, executive director of the Prevention Team, sees the need for continuing substance abuse education in the county.

— Teens appear to be getting it, but there is still more work to be done.

That is what Doug Terbeek and Mac MacDevitt said were the results of the 2012 Prevention Needs Assessment Survey conducted in each school throughout Essex County, which they presented to the Essex County Board of Supervisors during its Sept. 24 Ways and Means Committee meeting.

“Overall, the risk for youth is trending down,” Terbeek, the Executive Director of the Prevention Team, said. “There are 20 risk factors and 15 protective factors that are covered in the survey, and we can really pull out some very interesting data from these surveys. The good news is that the numbers are going down, but they are still higher than the national averages.”

MacDevitt said that students from each school filled out surveys about their perceptions and use of alcohol and drugs.

“We made it very clear and worked very hard to keep these results confidential,” he said. “No teachers ever saw their answers and each one was sealed after it was completed. The students were given the chance to be honest and open.”

MacDevitt said any surveys that seemed to be filled out improperly were discarded leading to what he felt was an accurate representation of where teens in Essex County schools stand on the issues of alcohol and drug use.

“What the research says is that this is a community problem,” he said. “The idea is to try and work on these factors to make these things less desireable to our youth. We need to drive the kids to more positive behaviors.”

Terbeek said that around 76 percent of students in grades 7-12 in the county responded to the surveys.

“This is what these kids perceive is going on,” MacDevitt said. “This is their honest opinion. In the world of trying to figure out what is going on with youth, this is not a bad tool.”

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