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Submitted by on Thu, 09/13/2007 - 5:44pm.

A recent survey shows an alarming number of New Hanover County middle and high school students are engaging in risky behavior like violence, drug use, and even sexual activity. UNCW Professor, Caroline Clements has focused her career on studying youth behavior. She says recognizing the problem is the first step. "The focus really has to be on middle schools and earlier to prevent this type of behavior because if the behavior is well entrenched by 8th grade," she says, "it's very difficult to do something if you have a program that starts in 9th grade." Some of the most shocking findings: 1 in 5 middle school students say they have used a drug. 1 in 2 say they have been involved in violent behavior. 1 in 4 have had sexual intercourse by the 8th grade. The first study was done in 2005 and a follow up survey in 2007 came back with similar results. Clement adds, "Parents don't want to believe that its happening here, but the added impact with the 2007 data is that it's really hard not to believe it twice." She wants parents to know that they shouldn't wait on the school to talk to their children, preventative efforts should start in the home. New Hanover High School Principal, Chris Furr says studies like this help schools find new ways to educate students before it becomes a problem.

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