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Survey finds few parents read, eat with kids
Survey finds few parents read, eat with kids
By JOSEPH KOZIOL JR.
Children in Geauga County could use a few more bedtime stories and a few more meals together with their families.
Those were among the findings in a 2011 Geauga County community health assessment sponsored by the Partnership for a Healthy Geauga, which basically looked at a particular point in time.
The 170-page report, released last month, was comprised of three separate surveys, including children up to 11 years old, youth 12 to 18 years old and adults 18 and older.
"The statistics contained in this report provide valid and reliable measures of the collective health of Geauga County residents," the report states. "This document will guide the Partnership for a Healthy Geauga over the next few years to strengthen the local public health system and provide programs and services that will improve the health and well-being of Geauga County residents."
Representatives from schools, health and social services and the juvenile courts were among those to sit down and discuss the findings following the report's release.
One area of concern raised by the group is the low percentage of parents with children 5 years old and younger who read to them every day. The survey found that about 35 percent of Geauga County parents read to their children every day. A 2007 statewide survey showed that about 50 percent do so, and a United States survey the same year showed 48 percent.
Participants in the discussion asked whether it's a matter of parents who may travel and are unavailable for such family time. They asked that the next survey ask residents whether travel may prevent that interaction.
A similar number, 38 percent, was reported for Geauga families that eat a meal together every day of the week. That compares with 55 percent in Ohio and 58 percent nationally.
Kimm Leininger, executive director of United Way Services of Geauga County, noted that the survey preceded the Feb. 27 tragedy at Chardon High School, which may enable the board to use it as a baseline for future surveys. Following the shootings at Columbine High School, she said, officials noted an increase in risky behaviors, such as drinking and suicides.
In 2011, the health assessment results indicated 51 percent of Geauga youth ages 12 to 18 have had at least one drink of alcohol in their lives, increasing to 71 percent for those 17 to 18 years old. Those percentages are lower than the state and nation, with 76 percent and 73 percent, respectively.
Of those who drank, 64 percent had five or more alcoholic drinks on an occasion in the last month and would be considered binge drinkers by definition. Another 14 percent reported they had driven a car in the past month after they had been drinking alcohol.
The survey showed 15 percent of those in sixth to 12th grades used marijuana in the past 30 days. That number rose to 20 percent for grades nine through 12. The Ohio survey for grades nine through 12 showed 18 percent using marijuana. Nationally, the percentage was 21 percent. The survey showed 10 percent of Geauga youth misused prescription drugs, either taking medication not prescribed for them or taking more than prescribed to feel good or get high.
The survey also quizzed youth on behaviors behind the wheel. "Geauga County youth drivers did the following while driving: wore a seat belt, 85 percent; talked on their cellphones, 68 percent; texted, 58 percent; ate, 54 percent; used cellphone for other tasks, 13 percent; used the Internet on their cellphones, 12 percent; used Facebook on their cellphones, 11 percent; applied makeup, 7 percent; and read, 4 percent.
More than three-fourths, 77 percent, of youth had a Myspace, Facebook or other social networking account.
"In Geauga County, 10 percent of the youth (sixth to 12th grade) had carried a weapon in the past month," the survey found. "Six percent of youth had been threatened or injured by a weapon on school property in the past year. Forty-three percent of youth were bullied in the past year. Eighteen percent of youth had purposely hurt themselves at some time in their life."
The survey also showed 7 percent of youth had a boyfriend or girlfriend hit, slap or physically hurt them on purpose in the past 12 months, increasing to 11 percent of those over the age of 17. An equal number reported they were physically forced to have sexual intercourse when they did not want to. That 7 percent compared to 10 percent statewide and 7 percent nationally.
Discussion participants said they were perplexed by a finding that showed 8 percent of parents with children 5 and younger reported diagnoses with developmental delays or a physical impairments. That compared to the state's 2 percent and the nation's 3 percent.
The survey found that, among Geauga County children ages 6 to 11, fewer than 1 percent reported participating in no physical activity, compared to 6 percent in the state and 7 percent nationally.
In 2011, 22 percent of Geauga County parents reported that their children did not have health insurance.
The survey also looked at a sampling of 147 students at the Kent State University Geauga Campus.
Forty percent of them reported that cost would prevent them from seeing a doctor if they were sick, injured or needed advice about health. Another 25 percent said there was a time in the past year when they needed to see a doctor but could not because of the cost.
Of those surveyed, 43 percent reported being overweight or obese, 15 percent said they had driven after having perhaps too much to drink in the past month, and 32 percent were current smokers. That is higher than the 14 percent of adults who are smokers in the county.
The survey reported that 16 percent of the students were concerned about having enough food for themselves or their families.
But, for the most part, they are happy. The survey showed 84 percent of students felt satisfied or very satisfied with their lives.
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