Results of a health survey completed by teens in Milford show fewer students say they are drinking alcohol than in previous years, but that more feel they have been victimized by cyber-bullying.
The MetroWest Adolescent Health Survey was administered in 2010 to students in 24 participating school systems, including Milford students in grades 7-12. Results shared Thursday with the reveal a decrease in substance use, including cigarette and marijuana smoking, and alcohol consumption.
But certain behaviors — including sharing sexual pictures via online messages (sexting) and online bullying — have increased among teens since 2006.
The anonymous surveys asked a variety of questions of teens. Middle school students were not asked about sexual behavior. The surveys were confidential, students sealed their own surveys, and letters sent home allowed parents to opt-out. Few parents opted their children out: just 6 at , and 12 at the middle school grades.
The 2010 results for Milford reveal:
- 12 percent of high school students and 4 percent of middle school students said they smoked cigarettes in month before the survey.
- 30 percent of high school respondents and 8 percent of middle schoolers said they drank alcohol in the prior month — both decreases over prior years.
- 17 percent of high school students and 3 percent of middle schools said they engaged in binge-drinking in the prior month (five or more drinks in a row).
- 31 percent of high school students said they had smoked marijuana at some point, down from 34 percent in 2006.
- 6.5 percent of high schoolers, and 16 percent of middle schoolers, said they had carried a weapon within the past 30 days.
- 28 percent of high school students said they had been a bullying victim in past year, up from 25 percent in 2008 and 26 percent in 2006.
- 37 percent of middle school students said they had been a bullying victim in the past year, down from 44 percent in 2008 and 42 percent in 2006.
- 20 percent of high school students said they had been cyber-bullied in past year, up from 16 percent in 2008 and 13 percent in 2006.
- 24 percent of middle schoolers said they had been cyber-bullied in the past year, up from 14 percent in 2008 and 18 percent in 2006.
Among selected behaviors, 29 percent of Milford juniors and seniors said they had received a "sext" from someone they knew in the year prior to the survey. Among freshmen and sophomores, 21 percent had received one.
A smaller number of high school students said they had sent, or forwarded, a "sext" of someone they knew, ranging from 8 percent among freshmen to 15 percent among juniors.
About 77 percent of Milford High School students, and 85 percent of middle school students, participated in the survey, said Diana Dow, health curriculum team leader for the Milford Public Schools and Amy Leone, of Wayside Youth and Family services. The next survey will be administered in 2012.