Southampton Reports Risk Behaviors of Local Teens

The Town of Southampton Youth Bureau has released the report of the fourth administration of the Teen Assessment Project (TAP). Approximately 2188, eighth, 10th and 12th grade students attending schools in Southampton Town were surveyed in December of 2011, providing the Youth Bureau with a database that supplies significant information about local students’ lives, behaviors, and concerns, and some insight into how the Southampton Town community can effectively support their healthy development.

The survey asked students about risk behaviors, health and lifestyle indicators, parental involvement and the risk and protective factors that affect adolescent lives. The findings of this survey will be used to plan and support programs that address the needs of youth and families in the Town of Southampton and to improve out of school resources and supervision. It was given to seven school districts in the Town, including Bridgehampton Union Free School District (UFSD), Hampton Bays UFSD, Riverhead Central School District, Sag Harbor UFSD, Southampton UFSD, Tuckahoe Common School District and Westhampton Beach UFSD.

Parts of that report are reproduced or paraphrased below. Click here for the complete report and in-depth analysis or visit the Youth Bureau on southamptontownny.gov.

Alcohol & Drugs

At the time it was conducted in 2011, the TAP survey finds that local youth continue to abuse alcohol as their primary drug of choice. Binge drinking continues to be a significant problem. Other than alcohol, local youth also report frequently abusing marijuana, tobacco, prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications, in that order. Reported use of other illicit drugs in December of 2011 remains under 5 percent. Sixteen percent of youth report being high in school at least once, and 5 percent of youth report being high in school weekly or more often.

Overall, 29 percent of students report ever using marijuana and 15 percent report current use of marijuana. A shockingly low 80 percent of all students surveyed report never using tobacco, though 16 percent of 12th graders report current use. In total, 7 percent of students report using prescription drugs to get high and 6 percent of students report using over the counter drugs to get high. Of those students, 13 percent of all 12th grade students report using prescription drugs to get high. Alcohol use was reportedly well below the national average.

Marijuana TAP chart

Sexual Activity

Students who report having sexual intercourse at least once number 34 percent and those who report having oral sex at least once also number 34 percent. Overall, 20 percent of students admit having two or more sex partners, and 9 percent report four or more sex partners. Grade-specific reports reveal that 11 percent of eighth grade students, 34 percent of 10th grade students and 62 percent of 12th grade students report ever engaging in oral sex. The survey findings also show that 10 percent of eighth grade students, 31 percent of 10th grade students and 65 percent of 12th grade students report having ever engaged in sexual intercourse. Of those students who report having sexual intercourse, 66 percent also report that they always use birth control, while 14 percent report that they never use birth control.

Southampton Town had a total 9 percent of respondents identify their sexual orientation as homosexual, bisexual, transgendered, not sure, or other. This response is reported by 10 percent of 8th graders, 9 percent of 10th graders and 9 percent of 12th graders. The youth are at extremely high risk for poor outcomes, as demonstrated by data in the report, which notes: “As a community, we need to examine how we can provide youth with additional support and alternative means of coping with stressors in order to prevent such risk behaviors.” To that end, Long Island Gay and Lesbian Youth (LIGALY) is opening a center in the Hamptons this summer.

Oral Sex TAP chart

Violence/Gang Involvement

A total 11 percent of youth report being the victim of violence at home or in school. The same percentage, 11 percent, report being physically hurt by an adult at home, and 10 percent report being physically hurt by another student at school. 21 percent of youth report having been bullied by another student—24 percent of 8th graders, 22 percent of 10th graders and 16 percent of 12th graders—for much of their high school careers, meaning one in four youth experiences bullying or harassment.

5 percent of youth report being involved in a gang.

Solutions

Research shows that the most effective risk prevention strategies are to increase the protective factors in a young person’s life. Protective factors serve to protect youth from choosing risky behaviors or experiencing mental and physical health problems. Consistent and positive parenting practices, detailed in the report, will make children less likely to make poor decisions.

The TAP Survey has one question that asks students directly their opinion on the most effective strategy for keeping them out of trouble. Their responses show that the community and their parents play equally important roles—30 percent identify after-school and weekend activities, 26 percent identify positive role models, and 26 percent believe family and parents are most effective.

Call the Youth Bureau at 631-702-2425 to learn more about the findings, to get involved in positive youth development or to schedule a presentation for your group or community. The complete TAP report, with expanded data and more on gambling and other risky behaviors, is available on the Town of Southampton website.

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