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Open Letter to GWRSD School Board – 2021 YRBS Testing

Open Letter to GWRSD School Board – 2021 YRBS Testing
To: Jack Widmer, James Pittman, Krista Abear, Timothy Eldridge, James Manning, Wendi Fenderson, Charlene Seibel, Stefanie King, Dana Streeter, Kelly Tivnan 
cc: sau49@sau49.org
(Publically available email addresses)

To the GWRSD School Board

At the August 16th Meeting, the State requires a commitment to the 2021 YRBS (Youth Risk Behavior Survey) Testing at Kingswood Regional High School from the GWRSD School Board.  That is the State deadline.  To say that YRBS testing is necessary now more than ever is an understatement; therefore, a unanimous vote by the GWRSD School Board is encouraged and expected.  The YRBS identifies the risks our youth currently face.  To help everyone understand ……

YRBS testing was stopped by the GWRSD after the 2011 YRBS Results showed excessive risks among Kingswood youth.  In 2018, Team Wolfeboro presented 150 pages of supporting information for conducting the 2019 YRBS Testing, including Letters of Support from every Police Department of the GWRSD towns.  Consequently, the School Board strongly supported 2019 YRBS testing with only one opposing vote based on the time required (30-45 minutes). Unfortunately, the 2019 YRBS Test Results for Kingswood, like the 2011 Results, were upsetting to many.  29 percent of our teens confirmed drug use; 10 percent have attempted suicide; 49 percent are active sexually; 8 percent admitted to being victims of date rape; etc.).  These disturbing results are substantially greater (25-50 percent) than the NH and US average.  After a year of remote learning, these risk activities may have even gotten worse.  We do not know.

We do know that overdose deaths in the U.S. jumped 30 percent in 2020 from 2019.  We do know that Marijuana use nationwide is increasing, and only 8 percent of Kingswood youth perceive marijuana as a risk.  We do know that THC levels in marijuana have increased exponentially. The marijuana of the 1960s contained 2-4 percent THC compared to 20-40 percent THC today with dabs over 90 percent concentration of THC.  Marijuana today (13 Deadly Facts about Marijuana) is a “hard-core” drug that re-wires the developing brain of those under age 25 causing mental health and long-term problems (joblessness and homelessness).   We do know that marijuana use by teens increases suicidal thoughts and violence.  We do know that the legalization of marijuana is promoted by the manufacturers of tobacco and alcohol who “place profits above the health of people”.  The addiction of our youth, some as young as 8 years old, is essential to their future profits. 

Without the YRBS data, there is no identification of the problems and neither success or failure of Prevention Programs can be measured.  But some may not want to know the truth about the risks our teens are taking.  To them, we respond “Ignorance has no place in education”.  To do otherwise is similar to having cancer but refusing to ask what kind of cancer and which treatments are available. 

From the Covid pandemic, critical lessons were learned: Knowledge is essential to making good decisions.  United, we can confront risks facing our youth. Mental health is fragile; our youth are especially vulnerable. Community and technology are beneficial to decreasing risks.

The 2020 –2021 School year has been challenging, but as Superintendent Ms. Cuddy-Egbert stated in February regarding drug prevention, “There is always work to be done.”   The most important part of that work is obtaining current data on the Risks being taken by our youth so that the risks can be addressed.

At the August 16th Meeting,  Team Wolfeboro encourages the GWRSD School Board to support unanimously the 2021 YRBS testing at Kingswood Regional High School. “Ignorance has no place in education”.  

Bob Batson

Team Wolfeboro

“Partner for a Drug Free Community”

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