“It’s important that kids know, that contrary to public belief, a majority of high school students don’t drink alcohol,” state Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said on Thursday in a news release as the health department released an analysis of the latest data on teen drinking in the state.
For example, among the state’s ninth-graders:
The percentage of students reporting current alcohol use dropped from 30.4 in 2001 to 11.2 in 2016. The percentage of students who said they started drinking before age 13 dropped from 19.8 in 2007 to 12.3 in 2016. The percentage of students who admitted to binge drinking dropped from 6.9 in 2013 to 4.4 in 2016.
The analysis was drawn from the 2016 Minnesota Student Survey, which surveyed students in fifth, eighth, ninth and 11th grades.
The downturn carries into the college level, or at least that’s so at the University of Minnesota Duluth, said Lauretta Perry, the school’s chemical health educator.
“What we have seen is, also, a continuous decline in the number of students that are receiving alcohol-related violations, the number of our DUIs” at least over the past five years, she said.
The drop in DUIs has been particularly stark in just the past year, Perry said. During the 2016-17 academic year, UMD students had 32 citations. This academic year, so far, there have been two.
Perry said she expects the extreme drop is attributable to the introduction one year ago of ride-sharing services Uber and Lyft to Duluth.
“We believe that this is a generation of students that is using sober cabs and designated drivers as their social norm,” she said. “That already existed, but by having Uber and Lyft in the community, it made it that much more accessible.”
According to student surveys UMD conducts every three years, the