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Report says Okanagan youth vape, drink, have sex more than B.C. counterparts

Click to play video: 'Okanagan youth drinking, smoking and being more sexually active than provincial average' Okanagan youth drinking, smoking and being more sexually active than provincial average
Okanagan youth drinking, smoking and being more sexually active than provincial average – Feb 21, 2020

A recent study says youth in the Okanagan drink, vape and have more sex than their provincial counterparts.

The 2018 B.C. Adolescent Health Survey says it surveyed 38,000 students in Grades 7 to 12, with 58 of the province’s 60 school districts completing the multi-page questionnaire.

The publishers say the survey has been administered by public health nurses and nursing students in mainstream public schools every five years since 1992.

A graph showing marijuana use by youth in the Okanagan. McCreary Centre Society

READ MORE: Youth who aren’t in school or employed have poorer mental, physical health: study

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The Okanagan survey included the following school districts: Vernon, Central Okanagan, Okanagan Similkameen, Nicola-Similkameen, Okanagan Skaha and North Okanagan-Shuswap.

Regarding smoking, the percentage of Okanagan youth who smoked tobacco was higher than the provincial average: 24 per cent versus 18 per cent.

Notably, in 2008, the Okanagan average was 29 per cent, while the provincial average was 26 per cent.

Going back to 2018, 29 per cent of youth in the Okanagan had vaped with nicotine, eight percentage points higher than the provincial average (21 per cent).

Okanagan youth who vaped without nicotine were listed at 23 per cent, slightly higher than the provincial average of 19 per cent, as was cigarette use (9 per cent vs 7 per cent).

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Regarding alcohol use, 53 per cent had drunk booze, which is higher than the provincial average of 44 per cent. The report added the most common age for youth to have their first drink was 14.

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Also, the report said 69 per cent had drank in the last month, with 65 per cent binge drinking last Saturday.

It also said 45 per cent got alcohol from an adult, with 29 per cent reporting they gave someone money to buy it.

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As for sex, 27 per cent of Okanagan youth reported having oral sex, with 24 per cent having had intercourse. The provincial averages were respectively 22 per cent and 20 per cent.

The survey noted that the average age for first having intercourse was 16.

Provincially, the survey said:

  • 21 per cent of all students were born outside Canada
  • 10 per cent identified as indigenous
  • 2 per cent (1 in 50) identified as non-binary
  • 0.5 per cent (1 in 200) identified as transgender
  • 13 per cent lived with their grandparents
  • 33 per cent had worked at a paid job during the school year
  • 41 per cent of youth turned off their phone, put it on silent mode or put it in another room when going to bed
  • 59 per cent of youth were chatting or texting when they were normally expected to be asleep
  • 73 per cent rated their mental health as good or excellent
  • 86 per cent felt at least a little stress in the past month
  • 37 per cent always ate 3 meals a day on school days
  • 56 per cent had never tried alcohol
  • 25 per cent had tried marijuana
  • Using condoms was the most common method to prevent pregnancy among youth who have had sex. The other options were birth control pills or patch, morning after pill or withdrawal
  • 83 per cent of youth planned to continue their education after high school

Within the Okanagan:

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  • 15 per cent identified as indigenous
  • 26 per cent had moved from one home to another in the past year, with 6 per cent having moved three or more times
  • 57 per cent participated in informal sports, with 13 per cent not being able to afford informal sports
  • 19 per cent seriously considered suicide in the past year
  • 24 per cent had tried tobacco
  • 71 per cent felt safe at school
  • 35 per cent felt quite a bit hopeful for their future, with another 34 per cent feeling very hopeful
  • 51 per cent of females reported as having good health ratings, along with 48 per cent of males
  • 44 per cent reported wearing a helmet while riding a bicycle, up from 29 per cent in 2008

To view the report, click here.

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