Survey offers insights into risk factors for students

GREAT BARRINGTON— While the usage rates of cannabis and alcohol are trending down among high school students in Berkshire County, the attitudes of parents continues to remain highly favorable compared to national averages, according to a county-wide teen survey.
The survey, administered by the Railroad Street Youth Project (RSYP), identifies favorable parent attitudes towards drugs as a risk factor for adolescent problem behavior.

Among 10th grade students in the Berkshire Hills Regional School District, roughly 56 percent said their parents have a favorable attitude toward drug use, according to the Prevention Needs Assessment Survey. Throughout the county, the rate dwindles down to 45 percent of high school sophomores responding similarly. Nationally, the rate sits at 36 percent, according to 2018 data.

Ananda Timpane, executive director of RSYP, delivered the statistics to the Berkshire Hills school committee at a Sept. 5 meeting, noting that the favorable attitude toward drug use tends to be high for parents in the Berkshire community.

“I think the world of prevention has not done a good job in talking to parents in a way that is not with a lot of shame and guilt,” said Timpane. “It’s just not useful. It shouldn’t be something where we wag our fingers at parents.”

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