Survey: Many Croton-Harmon Seniors Binge Drinking

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Members of the Croton-Harmon Board of Education discussed the results of the Croton Community Coalition's survey on substance abuse Thursday evening.
Members of the Croton-Harmon Board of Education discussed the results of the Croton Community Coalition's survey on substance abuse Thursday evening. Photo Credit: Jessica Glenza

CROTON-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. ‒ A significant percentage of Croton-Harmon High School seniors surveyed on their use of alcohol reported that they were binge drinking, according to data presented to the Board of Education by the Croton Community Coalition. 

Overall, high school and middle school students said they were smoking and drinking less overall, according to the survey. But more than half the seniors reported drinking in the 30 days before the survey was taken, and three-quarters of those said they were binge drinking. 

"As superintendent, the information that bothers me the most, the data that bothers me the most, is the binge drinking," said Croton-Harmon Schools Superintendent Edward Fuhrman. Binge drinking, said survey presenters, is defined as having at least five drinks in two hours or less. 

Officials from Student Assistance Services, a non-profit that works to prevent substance abuse, presented the survey data at Thursday evening's Croton-Harmon Board of Education work session.

As a recipient of a federal Drug Free Communities grant, the Croton Community Coalition is required to survey students biannually on substance use. In spring 2011, students in grades seven through 12 were anonymously surveyed on their use of tobacco, alcohol and marijuana in the past 30 days. In the next survey cycle, students will be questioned about their use of prescription painkillers. 

Presenters said the number of students using tobacco, alcohol and marijuana declined between a 2008 survey and the latest survey. Tobacco use dropped 82.2 percent, alcohol use 37.2 percent and marijuana use 52.4 percent.

Fuhrman cautioned, however, that the schools' small populations were the reason for the percentage fluctuations. 

"Our numbers are so small, that's why you get these huge percentages," he said. "The second thing, this is only one set of data. Third, this does not follow a cohort, but it does not purport to be more than it is."

Overall, the numbers for Croton-Harmon seniors were above the national average. More than half (55.8 percent) reported using alcohol in the last 30 days, compared with a national average of 40 percent. About one-third (36.6 percent) reported using marijuana in the last 30 days, compared to 22.6 percent nationwide. And nearly one-fourth (22.8 percent) reporting using tobacco in the last 30 days, compared to a national average of 18.7 percent.

Bonnie Fenster, director of research and evaluation for Student Assistance Services, said the Croton-Harmon numbers were in line with Westchester County averages. 

A school board member said she wished the survey was administered every year, since that would make it easier to follow a class of students, or "cohort."

"The big shock point was the break between eighth and ninth grade," Croton-Harmon school board member Neal Haber said of the 2008 survey. "Now, what we're seeing is a slow climb and spike in 12th grade," he said.

The Croton Community Coalition will hold a community meeting at Croton Free Library, although it's unclear if a date has been set. Croton-Harmon High School students were notified of the data Monday morning. 

School district officials said they intend to post the entire survey on the district website. 

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Comments (4)

Fly on the Wall, you and I read the title the same way. Maybe because I'm approaching "seniorhood" myself!

Not only is binge drinking and other drug abuse among our kids high, it's high amoung we parents too.

Remember this, next time you are at an adult party here in Croton, and don't say anything when a group goes off to a side room to smoke weed, or worse.

Think about the number of people you know in Croton who legally medicate themselves with prescription drugs.

There was more drug use among our peers at the elite private school our kids attended in an upscale neighborhood in Brooklyn then amongst our peers in Bedford Stuyvesant where we previously lived, so I was under no pretenses when I moved to our tony little village. In fact, there were two heroin overdoses in the village that occurred just a year ago.

Of course our drug problem doensn't manifest itself the way it does in poorer areas, in terms of violence and the visibility of addicts, but our rates of drug use are as high, if not higher.

There are a number of fine organizations in Croton that are devoted to drug prevention, and my kids just had a drug prevention session at the school, so the community is aware of, and trying to be proactive about the problem. However, until we as parents end our dependence on drugs, (legal, illicit, prescription, prescribed, recreational, and casual) our children will continue to follow our example.


Can you really blame the Seniors... Just look at the taxes they are paying!