Students’ illegal consumption of alcohol on school property may lead to additional crimes and misbehavior. It may also lead to a school environment that is harmful to students, teachers, and staff (Fagan and Wilkinson 1998). In the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, students in grades 9-12 were asked whether they had consumed alcohol at all in the past 30 days (referred to as "anywhere" in this report) and if they had consumed alcohol on school property. In 2003, 45 percent of students consumed at least one drink of alcohol anywhere, and 5 percent consumed at least one drink on school property (table 15.1). No consistent pattern was detected in the percentage of students who reported consuming alcohol on school property between 1993 and 2003: over these years, the percentage who reported consuming alcohol at school fluctuated between 5 and 6 percent. The percentage of students who reported using alcohol anywhere increased from 48 to 52 percent between 1993 and 1995 and then declined to 45 percent in 2003.
The likelihood of drinking alcohol varied by student characteristics including sex, grade level, and race/ethnicity. In 2003, males were more likely than females to use alcohol on school property (6 vs. 4 percent), a difference not found in the percentage who reported drinking anywhere (figure 15.1 and table 15.1). In 2003, students in higher grades were more likely to report drinking alcohol anywhere than students in lower grades (figure 15.2 and table 15.1). However, no relationship was found across grade levels for students’ likelihood of drinking alcohol on school property.
In 2003, Black and Hispanic students were more likely to use alcohol on school property than White students (6 and 8 percent, respectively, vs. 4 percent). In the same year, Asian and Black students were less likely to use alcohol anywhere than American Indian, White, or Hispanic students. Twenty-eight percent of Asian students and 37 percent of Black students reported using alcohol anywhere, compared with 46 to 52 percent of White, Hispanic, and American Indian students.
Alcohol use by students did not differ by where students lived. In 2003, no differences were detected in the percentage of students who consumed alcohol anywhere or on school property among urban, suburban, and rural students. Student reports of using alcohol varied among states for which data were available, ranging from 21 to 51 percent anywhere and from 3 to 7 percent on school property (table 15.2).
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