Key youth insights

Alarming and compelling statistics were recently revealed at the Penola and District Planet Youth Forum held at Penola High School.

Substance Misuse Limestone Coast Project Officer Sophie Bourchier presented the statistics of 115 adolescents in the Wattle Range, Kingston and Robe area in comparison with other participating councils.

The presentation addressed health and social issues prevalent in youth including smoking, alcohol and illicit substance use, health behaviour, school satisfaction, academic achievement, emotional well-being, physical activity and more.

Statistics also showed the participants’ perception of what they believed their parents thought about issues such as alcohol, cannabis use and knowing where they were at night.

Ms Bourchier said kids being with their parents could be a protective factor but also a risk factor in some cases.

Figures showed that 32% of participants who had high parental monitoring had been drunk in the last 30 days compared to 54% of those with low parental monitoring.

Some 16% of participants with high parental monitoring had used cannabis before compared to 46% with low parental monitoring, with both of these statistics above average.

It was also revealed that physical activity could be both a protective factor and a major risk factor, which Ms Bourchier said was likely due to associated social events.

In regards to COVID-19, many participants said this had not affected their mental health, family and peer relationships, social connections, physical health, educational experience or support from teachers and school.

However, there were still many who were feeling somewhat or a lot worse about these factors.

The audience was quite surprised with the statistics regarding how much COVID-19 had impacted adolescents’ mental health, as 90% said they had experienced no added or just a little added stress, anxiety and/or depression.

Ms Bourchier believed the COVID-19 mental health statistics were quite good compared to the state numbers, however she said sleep was “terrible”, with 43% sleeping an average of seven hours of less.

Ms Bourchier said the next steps were to educate parents and significant adults in the community about the harms associated with low parental monitoring and the permissive culture of alcohol in homes.

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