Study shows teen drinking highest in Laguna and Santa Ana
Excerpt from The Orange County Register article by Courtney Perkes presents a study about the high percentages of teens that experiment with alcohol compared to their peers in other counties and cities in California.
Orange County is an overall healthy place to live, but a new report examining everything from teen drinking rates to park space shows that some cities are faring significantly worse.
For instance, Orange County teens experiment less with alcohol than their peers statewide. But students living in Laguna Beach and Santa Ana exceed the state average by 7 percentage points.
In most segments, the less affluent and less educated parts of the county fared the worst for health indicators, such as adults with health insurance and access to healthy food. An exception is smoking and drinking rates among teens.
Teen drinkers, the report says, are at greater risk of alcoholism as adults, as well as academic struggles, risky sexual behavior and drug use.
Locally, 41 percent of ninth-graders reported having tried alcohol. Irvine Unified was the lowest at 25 percent.
The state average is 47 percent. Three school districts exceeded that rate: Laguna Beach Unified and Santa Ana Unified, both at 54 percent, and Newport-Mesa at 50 percent.
Pamela Estes, executive director of the Laguna Beach Boys & Girls Club, is part of a coalition working to reduce the problem.
“It’s the age and it crosses every socioeconomic strata,” Estes said. “You’ve got teens who have a lot of time and resources on their hands here. They pretty much are left to their own devices.”
Estes said the coalition is working on ways to educate parents about the problem. She said her club invites guest speakers to share with teens their struggles with addiction.
Laguna Beach also has the highest concentration of businesses selling alcohol in the county, according to the report. Laguna Woods has the lowest.
“Everyone thinks stop them from selling to kids,” Estes said. “That’s not where they get it. It’s from the home.”