Youth Safety First

Data & Research:  Necessity for Campaign

The Today Not Tomorrow, Inc. “Youth Safety First, Lock It Up” Campaign is designed to heighten the public awareness and perception of the safety issues of access to prescription medicines, alcohol and handguns in households.

Wisconsin leads the nation in underage drinking. According to the 2007 Wisconsin Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) a majority of high school students survey holds attitudes against binge drinking and casual marijuana use, and also reports strong parental disapproval towards those behaviors. However, Wisconsin statistics identify a high percentage of students who report alcohol and marijuana use.

Although fewer students under the age of 13, reported experimentation with alcohol, in 2007, as compared to 1993, the reported alcohol consumption for those years remains comparable, with one out of two reporting drinking in the past 30 days and 32 % reported engaging in binge drinking in that same time frame. (Binge Drinking is defined as 5 drinks or more in a row.)

The YRBS reveals that 23% of students reported using a painkiller with a doctor’s prescription, and 15% of males and 17% of females surveyed indicated using prescription drugs without a doctor’s prescription.

In the most recent Dane County Youth Assessment 25% of all students (grades 7 through 12) surveyed used beer / wine / alcohol once or twice in the last 12 month period of the survey; 17% had used hard liquor; 4% had used stimulants; and 5% had used prescription drugs not prescribed for them in the last 12 month period of the survey.

Who is the supplier? Drug Dealers alone? Access to fake Ids? Research indicates it is home medicine cabinet, or the medicine cabinet in the of friends homes, and home alcohol supplies.

Data on youth and suicide in Wisconsin and countrywide remains alarming. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people ages 15-24. It is the 2nd cause of death for youth over 14 in Wisconsin and the fourth overall cause of death for all ages in Dane County. In addition, the frequency of emergency room visits and inpatient hospitalizations due to self-inflicted injuries are greatest for ages 15 – 24.

The 2007 YRBS states a decrease in the percent of high school that report seriously thinking of suicide and making a plan. However, there has not been the equivalent decrease in the percentage of high school students who attempted suicide, or in the rate of those who die from their attempts.

In the comparison years of 1993 and 2007, the percentage of students who reported attempting suicide in the past 12 month is unchanged. Firearms are the most common method of suicide by all ages, males most commonly using firearms and females attempting or completing suicide through the use of pills.

The “Youth Safety First Lock It Up” Campaign serves to actively engage the community in measures to increase the safety of youth as the community learns more about the prevention of youth prescription drug use by cleaning out and locking medicine cabinets; the impact and implications of youth alcohol usage, and the importance of keeping guns locked and away from the reach of children and youth.