Havre Daily News
After receiving the results of a risk behavior survey, a Havre Public Schools administrator summed up the numbers with one statement - “It's safer to be at school than anywhere else.”
HPS assistant superintendent Dennis Parman on Thursday said he is “pleased but not satisfied” with the results from the Montana Youth Risk Survey, which was conducted last year.
The survey, given last spring, asked a random sampling of about 200 middle school and high school students about violence and their use of drugs, alcohol and tobacco, both on-campus and off. The results showed that students were less likely to engage in risk behaviors while on school property.
“This is not to say that the schools are perfectly safe,” Parman said. “I don't know anywhere there is on the globe where it would be perfectly safe.”
The results show improvement in most areas, with fewer students saying they bring weapons onto school grounds.
Students were asked how many days in the month prior to the survey they had carried a weapon, such as a gun, knife or club, to school. Of the 90 Havre High School students who took the survey, 7 percent reported carrying a weapon to school. In 2001, 20 percent of HHS students had reported bringing a weapon on campus.
Statewide, 10 percent of high school students reported bringing weapons to school.
More students - 17 percent - carried weapons when not on school grounds.
At Havre Middle School, 4 percent of students reported carrying a weapon on school grounds, compared to a 6 percent state average. Outside school property, 18 percent reported carrying a weapon.
Parman said he was concerned that 32 percent of high school students and 25 percent of middle school students reported that others had stolen or deliberately damaged their property at school in the year prior to the survey.
Those percentages represent a slight increase from the 2003 survey.
Parman also is concerned that a quarter of HHS students said they had someone offer, sell or give them illegal drugs on school property in the previous year. But that number is down. In 2001, 42 percent reported drug transactions. In 2003, that number dropped to 36 percent.
The number of students who reported being involved in a fight on school property has dropped in the last five years, with 8 percent of high school students reporting they had been in a physical fight compared to 15 percent in 2001, and 29 percent saying they had gotten into a fight off school property in 2005.
The survey showed that 10 percent of Havre Middle School students surveyed reported having been in a fight on school property and 31 percent elsewhere in the year prior to the survey.
No middle school students reported drinking alcohol at school but 26 percent said they drank somewhere else.
Havre schools began using the testing in 1997 and continue to administer the survey every other year. The Center of Disease Control and Prevention developed the survey questions.
Parman said he will meet with the HMS and HHS principals next week to discuss the results of the survey and possible action.