Arizona Criminal Justice Commission releases results of a statewide survey

teens schools

The Arizona Criminal Justice Commission (ACJC) released the results of a statewide survey that included more than 48,000 8th, 10th and 12th grade students from all 15 counties across Arizona. The 2014 Arizona Youth Survey shows that Arizona students continue to experience and/or participate in frequent incidences of violence, bullying and cyber-bullying.

In addition, more than one-third of students self-reported engaging in some type of substance use in the past 30 days.

“The Arizona Youth Survey continues to provide one of the most in depth and comprehensive looks at youth risks and behaviors in our state,” said John A. Blackburn, Jr., Executive Director of the Arizona Criminal Justice Commission. “For state and local policy makers, being able to use this data means making better informed decisions in developing effective strategies to improve communities throughout Arizona.”

The Arizona Criminal Justice Commission (ACJC), in collaboration with state and local partners and with technical assistance from Bach Harrison LLC., conducted the 2014 Arizona Youth Survey to assess health risk behavior and measure the prevalence of substance abuse—including alcohol, tobacco and other dangerous drugs—behavior among Arizona 8th, 10th and 12th graders. The survey also includes questions concerning other risky behavior such as bullying, violence and gambling.

“The Arizona Youth Survey is the best source of data in this state on youth behavior and the circumstance under which they live,” said Dr. Phillip Stevenson, director of ACJC’s Statistical Analysis Center. “Having this data available allows us to make informed decisions on what is working or not working in regards to our youth prevention policies and practices.”

Data Highlights from the 2014 Arizona Youth Survey:

Teen dating violence and school safety

In the 12 months prior to completing the survey:

• A little over 11 percent of youth report being physically assaulted by a boyfriend or girlfriend.
• Almost one-third (31.3 percent) of youth were bullied on school property and 5.9 percent report being bullied 12 or more times.
• Cyberbullying, defined as being harassed, mistreated, or made fun of by another person while on-line or through a cell phone or other electronic device, was reported by 26 percent of youth.

An additional bullying question was added for the 2014 AYS; this question asked youth to estimate, in the prior 12 months, how often they had picked on or bullied another student.

• Over 20 percent of youth reported bullying another student at least once in the past 12 months. Of these youth, 2.4 percent reported that they picked on or bullied another student on 12 or more occasions.

Youth drug use

The percentage of youth reporting lifetime use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs decreased from 2012 to 2014. With the exception of hallucinogens and steroid use, which remained stable, past 30-day use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs also decreased from the prior AYS administration.

Youth who reported drug or alcohol use listed the sources from which they received alcohol, marijuana or Rx drugs. Friends were the biggest source for both marijuana and Rx drugs; 75.7 percent of youth reported obtaining marijuana from friends and 55 percent of youth reported obtaining Rx drugs from their friends. As far as obtaining alcohol, giving someone else money to buy it for them was the highest listed source for youth (26.8 percent).

• There has been an increase from 2012 in the number of youth who obtained marijuana from someone with a Medical Marijuana Card; in 2012 this number was 11.6 percent of youth and in 2014 this number was 14.3 percent of youth.

30-Day and Lifetime Alcohol use

• Alcohol is the highest reported substance used by youth in the past 30-days (24.1 percent) and in their lifetime (46.2 percent). This represents a decrease from 2012 in which lifetime and past 30-day use were 51.7 percent and 28.1 percent respectively.
o The highest group reporting alcohol use for both lifetime and past 30-days were youth in Grade 12 (46.2 percent and 24.1 percent).

30-Day and Lifetime Marijuana use

• After alcohol, marijuana was the next highest reported substance used. Approximately 27.1 percent of youth reported using marijuana in their lifetime; 13.6 percent of youth report using marijuana in the past 30-days.
o Similar to alcohol use, more youth in 12th grade report lifetime and past 30-day use of marijuana (44.7 percent lifetime and 22.9 percent in past 30-days) than youth in either 10th (32.4 percent lifetime and 16.8 percent past 30-days) or 8th (14.9 percent lifetime and 6.9 percent in past 30-days) grades.

30-Day and Lifetime Cigarette use

• Cigarettes were the third most used substance reported by youth.
• A little over 20 percent (23.4) of youth reported lifetime cigarette use in 2014 and 9.4 percent of youth report past 30-day cigarette use. Both of these numbers are down from 2012.

30-Day and Lifetime Rx drug use

• After alcohol, marijuana and tobacco, Rx drugs are the most used substance by youth.
• Rx drug use decreased in each category between 2012 and 2014. Approximately 13.3 percent of youth reported lifetime Rx drug use (down from 16.6 percent in 2012) and 6.3 percent of youth report past 30-day Rx drug use (down from 7.9 percent in 2012).

Other Substance Use

• Steroid use remained unchanged from 2012 to 2014; 1.7 percent of youth report lifetime steroid use and 0.6 percent of youth report past 30-day steroid use.
• Lifetime synthetic drug (Spice, Bath Salts etc.) use was reported by 3.8 percent of youth; past 30-day synthetic drug use was reported by 0.8 percent of youth. Both of these have decreased since 2012 when lifetime synthetic drug use was 9.9 percent and past 30-day use was 4.5 percent.
• Once again, inhalant use was reported by more youth in 8th grade than those in 10th or 12th, for both lifetime and past 30-day use. In 2014, 9.0 percent of 8th grade youth reported lifetime inhalant use versus 6.6 percent of 10th graders and 5.4 percent of 12 graders. 3.1 percent of 8th graders report past 30-day inhalant use whereas only 1.3 percent of 10th graders and 0.9 percent of 12 graders report use in the past 30-days.

The 2014 Arizona Youth Survey was administered in each of Arizona’s 15 counties representing a total sample of 48,244 valid survey respondents statewide. State and county profile reports are available on ACJC’s webpage at:

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