D-Fy seeing numbers shift

Chad Frey
Members of STAND, a social norms group formed by Mirror, Inc. and supported by Harvey County D-Fy, present at the annual Kansas Prevention Conference last year. Their work, along with efforts by D-Fy, have resulted in reduced risk factors for substance use and abuse by teens in Harvey County.

It would appear that the efforts of Harvey County D-Fy are making inroads as it tries to make a societal shift in teen alcohol and drug use.

“For the last two years the coalition has been busy carrying out their action plan that involves district schools, community partnerships and Mirror’s STAND youth leadership program,” said Des Martens.

Using the “Communities that Care” survey, D-Fy organizers have been looking at the number of teens who report drinking alcohol or using marijuana within 30 days of the survey being taken.

Both measures have shown a drop over the last five years. Of those surveyed in 2020, 15.02 percent of teens in the county reported using alcohol within 30 days — down from the five-year high of 18.28 percent in 2017. The number has decreased from 16.69 percent in 2016 and held steady for the past two years.

In the area of 30-day marijuana usage, 7.3 percent of those surveyed admitted to using the drug in 2020 — the lowest number of the five-year time period and down from the five-year high of 10.29 percent in 2016.

The survey suggests that societal norms may be changing — the point of STAND groups organized by Mirror Inc. and supported by D-Fy.

In 2017, 12.44 percent of high school seniors reported they thought they would be seen as cool for using marijuana — in 2020 that dropped to 5.9 percent. According to a statement by D-Fy this week, a greater number of students believe that using marijuana regularly could cause harm and 88.17 percent of students surveyed said their family has “clear rules” about he use of drugs and alcohol.

Availability of alcohol is on the decline as well — 21.88 percent of those surveyed said it would be “easy” to get beer, wine, or liquor. That is down from 31.3 percent of students surveyed in 2016.

“All of our identified risk factors show favorable movement,” Martens said. “... The risk factors are what you change first. ... In 2017, we looked less favorable than the state on all risk factors below and we currently look better. This is something to celebrate.”

To learn more about the volunteer organization contact Melissa Schreiber, Community Mobilizer, at 316-283-6743 x 124 or email mschreiber@mirrorinc.org . Check out harveycountydfy.com and facebook.com/harveycountydfy