30% of WCASD Seniors Binge Drink, Survey Reveals

According to a survey conducted by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency over 30 percent of West Chester Area School District seniors admitted to binge drinking.

The West Chester Area School District recently participated in the Pennsylvania Youth Survey that tracks drug, alcohol and tobacco use in the school district.

According to the survey results over 50 percent of district seniors reported using alcohol in the past 30 days, and over 30 percent admitted to participating in binge drinking, which is defined as drinking with the intention to get drunk.

“The survey is taken every two years,” said district Director of Pupil Services Dr. Leigh Ann Ranieri.  “It helps us to know what’s going on out there.  It helps identify what programs need to be implemented in order to intervene.”

The PAY report anonymously surveys all district students in grades six, eight, 10 and 12.  In total, over 3,000 students are asked 108 questions.

The district then uses that information to set programs, but they can also use it to apply fro grants.

“The information is used by a lot of the community,” said Casey Yarnell who works for the district as a Pupil Services Specialists.  “We work with a lot of outside organizations that help us deal with a lot of the issues.”

Alcohol use is far and away the most prevalent substance used by the surveyed students with 2.7 percent of sixth graders having reported using alcohol in the last 30 days.

That number jumps from 10.6 percent in eighth grade to 27.9 percent in 10th and finally 51.9 percent in 12th.

“Obviously we see the largest jump in seniors,” Yarnell said.  “They have a lot more freedom than are younger students.”

Binge drinking follows a similar trend with just 0.5 percent of sixth graders admitting to binge drinking in the past 30 days.  That number jumps to three percent for eighth graders, 13.9 percent for 10th graders and 32.6 percent for district seniors.

But Dr. Ranieri says that the district has had a lot of success by using the data and promoting the things students aren’t doing.

“We look at the data, and yes, we have a five percent increase in some areas,” Ranieri said.  “But we also have information that shows that seven out of 10 of our students aren’t drinking.”

Ranieri added, “So, we’ve started a social norms campaign.”

Ranieri is referring to the district’s “Stay Classy, Stay Sober” Campaign, which tries to shift the conversation on underage drinking.

Basically the accepted status quo in high school is that everyone drinks, and that by not drinking you are somehow “not normal.”  The “Stay Classy, Stay Sober” campaign tries to invert that social norm.

Essentially, not everyone drinks, in fact, only 30 percent drink.

“We take the data and flip it to show what kids aren’t doing,” Ranieri said.

The West Chester School District was above statewide averages for alcohol and binge drinking, but it was below state averages for cigarette and smokeless tobacco use.

The district was also above state averages for marijuana use and non-medical use of prescription drugs.

Seavet1 February 05, 2013 at 12:54 PM
This survey grossly underestimates the amount of alcohol and drug use in West Chester Schools. The kids know it is much higher.
Country1st February 05, 2013 at 03:23 PM
Says who?
Andrea H. February 05, 2013 at 09:09 PM
Someone help me, I'm confused. I'm told that the reason it is okay for our sophmores to be reading Water For Elephants with its' breast slapping stripper, master bating midget and oral sex, is because the students are such remarkable, mature, young adults. Now we read that a ridiculous percentage are involved in illegal drinking, binge drinking and drug use? Which is it? Are they remarkably mature, or remarkably immature. Maybe once the hangovers subside and the pot smoke clears they can gather to discus the literary value of Water for Elephants with profound maturity. Somehow I doubt that's what they are discussing around the lunch tables. Believe it or not, the 50% not spending the weekend getting drunk or high may actually be trying to live a virtuous life. Why not make some literature choices to uphold their values? (Oops, "values" is almost a dirty word, isn't it?). Let us not forget our District's mission is to "inspire our students to achieve their personal best". Hopefully they will achieve this "best" in areas other than how to score the "best" weed.
Star Thrower February 05, 2013 at 10:16 PM
I don't know what you parents expect when you have teachers from the top school in chester county who have to be hauled out of their classroom drunk ... I'm surprised that students are not bingeing at lunch time .. actually they probably are, this study is 2 years old .. yet another reason to get rid of brick and mortar schools, and overpaid alcoholics who can't wait for retirement .. or even the end of the school day. Tredyffrin police earlier this week (12-10-12) filed charges against a Conestoga High School chemistry teacher who was found passed out in school with a reported 0.32 blood alcohol level. Carol Wittschieben, 43, of Wayne, has been charged with endangering the welfare of children, disorderly conduct and public drunkenness. http://www.dailylocal.com/article/20121220/NEWS01/121229927/conestoga-teacher-drunk-at-school-police-say
Jake Speicher (Editor) February 05, 2013 at 10:55 PM
Star Thrower, your disdain for brick and mortar schools is well established. I think everyone would appreciate it if you didn't lump all teachers together as when you say, "...get rid of brick and mortar schools, and overpaid alcoholics who can't wait for retirement .. or even the end of the school day." You probably have valid points to make, but labeling a whole group of people as failures based on the actions of one or two members of that group does not help your case. It simply infuriates the other side of your argument. It is my hope as editor of this site that this space could be used for rational debate, and not simply a forum for two entrenched sides to lobby grenades at one another.
Thomas Jackson February 06, 2013 at 12:23 PM
Well Jake the Snake, you're really not from around these parts so you should probably get the lay of the land before you get all blustery with folks. I appreciate Star Throwers views and don't appreciate you dressing them down. If this was some liberal/progressive left-wing nut their views would be fully acceptable. Who the hell are you anyway!
RoxyD February 06, 2013 at 01:12 PM
I would say that he is the editor of this publication. Disrespectful and malicious comments should be deemed inappropriate. I hope you both get banned from this site. Your bullying offers no value or valid argument. You and your friend are probably the same person anyway. It's laughably brave while hiding behind a disguise.
Star Thrower February 06, 2013 at 02:29 PM
C'mon Jake, talk about entrenched sides .. take a look at your gun control threads .. and take a look at the rest of the USA, it's nothing but entrenched sides - you also forget very quickly, how disrespectful the WC Vote contingent was (and is) to Mrs Adsett - and have a close look at Roxy .. everything she ever writes is loaded with habitual contumely, and does nothing bur reinforce a coercively controlled involuntary funding system to educate children. I do realize that every comment I make probably elicits a plethora of emails to you, but I fight fire with fire - just because I take the taxpayers side against greed, and am good at it is no reason to censor me ... point taken about over-generalizing.
Jake Speicher (Editor) February 06, 2013 at 03:01 PM
I'm not getting all blustery because Star Thrower's comments aren't liberal/ progressive left-wing. He can say teacher unions are greedy. He can shout it from a mountaintop for all I care. I would just also prefer that he not set the mountaintop on fire with napalm. Maybe it's my fault for calling him out specifically. I would just prefer it if everyone could turn down the rhetoric a notch or two.
nona February 06, 2013 at 05:52 PM
Thank you Jake Speicher. Commenters should just totally ignore Star Throwup and not dignify its vitriol and hate with any reaction whatsoever. It lives for stirring up its imagined nemeses.
Star Thrower February 06, 2013 at 10:22 PM
Gee Nona - still a little miffed that I exposed your pedophile hypocrisy?
Chewy's Person February 06, 2013 at 10:49 PM
Jake, Thank you for attempting to keep any discourse somewhat civilized. Good luck with that.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something