Zeigler noted, however, that the question does not differentiate between riding with a parent who had one drink and riding with a person who is intoxicated.
The portion of local students who had a drink in the last 30 days in 2012 showed only slight differences from 2011, she said. That year, 44 percent of freshmen and 58 percent of juniors reported having a drink.
Marshfield provides several educational programs that address health and risk behaviors, she said, including a mandatory pre-prom seminar given by the Marshfield Police Department for juniors and their parents. In another program, high school students help health educators speak to parents of middle and high school students.
Tracey said part of the reason Marshfield conducts its own survey is so as its needs change it knows where to tweak programs. Issues identified in last year’s survey are likely to receive more emphasis in upcoming health courses, she said.
On the positive side, Zeigler said, fewer Marshfield students said they are smoking, which coincides with a national trend. Only 12 percent of seventh-graders said they had tried smoking tobacco in 2012, compared with 22 percent the previous year, she said. At the high school level, 30 percent of freshmen and 53 percent of juniors said they had tried a cigarette, cigar, or pipe.
In the state survey, 10 percent of middle-schoolers in Grades 6 through 8 had tried cigarettes in their lifetime; 39 percent of high-schoolers said they had tried cigarettes.
With regard to marijuana, 43 percent of high-schoolers said they had tried it across the state, compared with 31 percent of Marshfield freshmen and 70 percent of Marshfield juniors.
Overall, use of both tobacco and alcohol has declined among teenagers, and students are older when they first try them, according to Lauren Greene, a program coordinator with the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
The decline in smoking has been sustained for some time, she said. She attributed the change to educational programs and better awareness among the general public about the dangers.
Jennette Barnes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.