Knowing the answer to this and related questions can help students feel less “perceived” peer pressure.
According to two student representatives from the group, “Shifting Perceptions,” high school students may drink alcohol, purely to feel like they’re “normal teenagers” (i.e., even when they don’t really want to).
That’s not breaking news.
What is eye-opening: Not as many students drink as much as they think.
How would they know?
“Shifting Perceptions” conducted a survey of handfuls of Los Gatos High School students last October. They asked questions on topics such as use of alcohol and marijuana, and experiences with bullying and sexting.
The survey results indicate some interesting and significant discrepancies.
For example, only 8 percent of the freshmen surveyed thought that “the typical LGHS student” never drank alcohol.
How different was that from the self-reports on the same survey? What percent of the students, divided into class of 2016, 2015, 2014, and 2013 say?
91 percent of freshmen never drank alcohol, 59 percent of sophomores never drank alcohol, 53 percent of juniors never drank alcohol, and 37 percent of seniors never drank alcohol.
The “Shifting Perceptions” representatives stressed that these results help students who don’t want to drink alcohol to feel okay. These “shifting” perceptions can be a tremendous relief. Who wants to feel abnormal?
What about the grayer points? For example, what percentage of students drink alcohol weekly?
According to the self-reports on the same survey, 2 percent of the freshmen, 7 percent of the sophomores, 6 percent of the juniors, and 16 percent of the seniors drink alcohol on a weekly basis.
Perceptions? 33 percent of the freshmen, 20 percent of the sophomores, 35 percent of the juniors, and 46 percent of the seniors thought that “the typical LGHS student” drank alcohol weekly.
Inaccurate perceptions, again.
We can feel “more relieved,” but then again, it takes just one alcohol- or marijuana-related car accident to remind us that we need to keep drunk drivers off the streets.
Here are the more hair-raising results.
3 percent of the seniors answered “Yes, regularly” to the question, “Have you ever driven under the influence of alcohol?”
13 percent of the seniors answered “Yes, regularly,” to the question, “Have you ever driven after smoking marijuana?”
What are your thoughts?
Grace “Megumi” Fleming is a member of the Los Gatos Moms Council, regularly attends CASA meetings, and practices hypnotherapy and psychotherapy in San Jose.
Source: “Survey Results, October 2012”, presented at Community Against Substance Abuse, or CASA general meeting, on Dec. 13. Percentages surveyed: 40 percent of freshman, 37 percent of sophomores, 38 percent of juniors, 46 percent of seniors.
CASA general meetings are open to the public and are held the second Thursdays of every month, 10-11:30 a.m. at Los Gatos High School community room. CASA provides funding to various community organizations, including Shifting Perceptions.
Please contact Karla Albright, executive director of Saferides, if you are interested in becoming a volunteer adult to drive students on Friday and Saturday nights firstname.lastname@example.org. They are need of one more volunteer this Saturday.
“Shifting Perceptions” is comprised of students and Nancy Offer, a high school advisor. They regularly meet with LGHS Principal Markus Autrey and provide useful information to parents, teachers, counselors, as well as the students.