Somerset County's young people are using alcohol in alarming numbers.
About 42.4 percent of those in grades 6, 8, 10 and 12 in 2011 reported drinking alcohol, according to a Somerset County Drug-Free Communities survey. All school districts in the county participated in the survey.
Somerset County students reported that 25.9 percent of them have used cigarettes and 18.7 percent have used smokeless tobacco. Other substance abuse totals were lower, with marijuana use at 12.8 percent, other illegal drugs at 10.6 percent and misuse of prescription drugs at 6.1 percent.
They did report some strong protective factors, including various opportunities and rewards at school, but lower percentages of them cited other protective factors, including family rewards and religion.
Tim Kretchman, supervisor of curriculum and instruction for the Meyersdale Area School District, said it is a serious challenge that schools cannot face alone. He called on community groups and individuals to help the schools strengthen kids to resist temptations of drugs, tobacco and alcohol.
This is a challenge worth becoming involved in. Together we can help our young people lower these results.