Statewide Survey Finds Decrease in Drug Abuse, Increase in Bullying Among Youth

Dec 08, 2010, 14:00 ET from Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency

HARRISBURG, Pa., Dec. 8, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Fewer Pennsylvania students are abusing illicit and non-prescription drugs, but youth alcohol abuse and bullying in schools remain key concerns, according to the 2009 Pennsylvania Youth Survey by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.

"The 2009 survey results show that, as a state, we have made substantial progress in curbing the use of illicit drugs and have seen a reduction in the number of students who are being threatened with a weapon or attacked while on school property," said PCCD Chairman Walter M. Phillips Jr. "However, there is great concern regarding students who are being bullied and those who are reporting symptoms of depression and alcohol use.

"I am confident that communities and school officials will continue to collaborate and focus their efforts on programs and resources to help all students across the state."

The Pennsylvania Youth Survey measures the prevalence of substance abuse, antisocial behaviors and risk factors among students in 6th, 8th, 10th, and 12th grades. The voluntary, anonymous survey asks students questions about their behaviors and attitudes on drug, alcohol and tobacco use and other concerns, such as bullying and depression. More than 24,000 students from schools across the state were randomly selected to participate.

Among the key findings of the 2009 survey:

  • Very few students (one percent or less) reported using illicit drugs, such as cocaine, methamphetamine and Ecstasy.
  • Relatively few students reported nonmedical use of prescription drugs (5 percent for pain relievers, 2.8 percent for stimulants, and 1.9 percent for tranquilizers).
  • Only 3 percent of students surveyed reported having been threatened with a weapon on school property in the previous year, and 1.1 percent of students reported being attacked with a weapon on school property.
  • Nearly 50 percent of 8th, 10th and 12th graders reported alcohol use, with 25.5 percent reporting use in the previous 30 days.
  • 18.1 percent of students reported they had been hit, kicked, pushed or shoved in the past year at school, with 20.7 percent reporting other students stole their money or damaged their belongings.
  • 51.4 percent of students reported non-physical forms of bullying, including name-calling, teasing or spreading false rumors.
  • Nearly one third of students (31.6 percent) reported symptoms of depression.

The results provide school administrators, state agency directors, legislators and others with critical information about the changes or patterns in the use and abuse of harmful substances and behaviors. It also assesses risk factors that can predict future behavior problems – such as use of drugs or alcohol or bullying - as well as protective factors, including family attachment and community involvement – that guard against them.

The information from the survey will allow community leaders to direct vital prevention resources to programs that can have the greatest impact on youth.

To view the entire report online, visit and click on "Justice Research."

For more information, visit or call 717-705-0888.

Media contact: Tara Mead, 717-265-8470

SOURCE Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency