EPIC works to prevent substance abuse in young people between the ages of 12 and 20 who live in Cape Girardeau County. Data collection and review are an important piece of assessing our community to identify strengths and supports for local young people as well as conditions that could make engaging in high-risk behaviors more likely. Surveys that include a wide variety of questions help organizations like ours to identify correlations between factors that may protect youth from high risk behaviors like substance abuse or factors that can put youth at a greater risk for substance abuse.
EPIC recently asked some local schools if they would administer Search Institute’s Attitudes and Behaviors Survey. Search Institute has been involved in research for 50 years working to identify what kids need to succeed in life. You can find the survey and read more about Search Institute on their website http://www.search-institute.org/. While EPIC believes this instrument can be a valuable tool in obtaining meaningful data, this survey is not “EPIC’s survey” as has been reported by some local news media and EPIC does not conduct this survey but we have historically asked some of the schools to administer the survey so that 1) they will have data that gives them an idea of what their students report as their strengths and supports in the community as well as their risk behaviors and 2) EPIC will be able to report on our core measures to our grantor, Drug Free Communities, and also EPIC will be able to develop appropriate drug abuse prevention strategies for our community. We ask the schools if they will give the survey and it is up to them to agree to do so or not. If schools have concerns about any questions on the survey, those questions may be removed from the survey prior to implementation. Additionally, schools are provided with the survey as well as a User’s Guide that includes information about how to administer the survey including information about taking precautions to ensure confidentiality of students and the need to obtain parental consent.
It is unfortunate that there has been so much controversy surrounding the recent implementation of the Attitudes and Behaviors Survey. EPIC is committed to doing whatever we can do to support schools and organizations who agree to administer surveys like the Attitudes and Behaviors Survey so they have all the information they need to administer the survey in an appropriate fashion. EPIC will continue assess our community so we can develop the most appropriate substance abuse prevention strategies for young people in Cape Girardeau County.