KEENE — Keene State College students concluded a semester long study of drug abuse at Keene High School with the release of its findings, which they hope will be used for an "open and honest conversation" with the community about substance abuse at the high school.
The study recommends a deeper collaborative partnership with substance abuse organizations in the region to curb teen substance abuse.
Areas of concern highlighted in the study included the need for support, treatment and education for Keene High School students, which the Keene State College students said deserves a closer look and changes to the school policy.
"Finally, students should also be able to refer themselves to a school substance abuse team without fear of consequences," the college students said in the study.
The family's role was also studied. According the report, "students stated that some parents were not being good role models. They felt parents were too lenient and needed to have 'stronger' conversations with their children about the consequences of doing drugs. Several students said they knew of parents who were abusing drugs and that it was okay, therefore, for their children to abuse drugs too."
One Keene High School teacher is quoted in the study as saying, "Mom and dad do it, and they think it's fine, so (the students) do it with mom or dad."
"I am a substance abuse major here at Keene State College — to see that the issue is so bad just in our backyard was surprising to say the least. I was astonished that we had some of the worst statistics not only for tobacco, but for heroin and cocaine as well," Emily Thomas, Keene State College senior said in a statement. "Once we started the interviews, it was even more clear that the issue was a big one. I think people don't want to accept that it is happening in their 'backyards.'"
In the study, conducted by 10 health science seniors and led by Keene State College Health Science Assistant Professor Dr. Marjorie Droppa, Keene High School student volunteers, teachers and parents were interviewed about substance abuse at the school and the conditions that foster abuse in the high school.
Data from the 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey shows Keene High School has on average one of the highest substance abuse rates in the state. The in-depth study was aimed at getting to the root causes of the increase could help the community understand what is causing the increase.
The Keene State research team concluded that their results should be used for an "open and honest conversation" with the Keene community about substance abuse at the high school. The team encourages school administrators to strengthen partnerships with groups such as the Monadnock Alcohol and Drug Abuse Coalition to better educate students, staff, and parents.