PUTNAM COUNTY - A survey of Putnam County students show decreases in many major issues facing youth after a five year initiative.

For the last two weeks the Sentinel has reported that The Putnam County Educational Service Center(PCESC) recently ended their five year coalition known as Safe Schools Healthy Students Initiative. The half-decade effort was aimed at students across the county.

The program targeted first graders through high school seniors through media outlets, workshops, speakers and interventions. Throughout the five year period students were surveyed in order to track the county's progress. The series of questions were broken down into three sections- mental health, alcohol/tobacco/drug use and bullying. For each section two surveys were issued. The first being the "SAFE" survey which was conducted each year (Nov. 2008-2012) for all students. The second survey is known as the "PRIDE" survey which was conducted Nov. 2008, 2010 and 2012 for grades four, six, eight, ten and twelve.

Dr. Stacey Rychener, a grant specialist for Bowling Green State University's Center for Evaluation Services, was brought in to evaluate the data collected from both surveys over the five year coalition.

Whereas parts one and two focused on mental health, drug, alcohol and tobacco, the third and final section focused on bulling and safety data.
According to Rychener, Putnam comes in under the national average in terms of bulling," said Rychener. "Most are saying they are not bullied and about a third say they are."

However, of that "third" Rychener speaks of, not all are fitting in the true definition of Bullying.

"The one time [report of bullying] doesn't fit the true definition of bullying," said Rychener. "So if you take out the 'one time' we would only be at 19 percent."

Rychener reported that of the different types of bullying, the highest was 23 percent of students reporting verbal bullying followed by indirect bullying at 16 percent. Indirect bullying includes gossip, rumor spreading and excluding. Seven percent of students reported cases of being physically bullied. The lowest percent was cyber bullying at three percent.

"Even though cyber gets a lot of the attention, at least in Putnam County, it is the lowest percentage," said Rychener.

The students Rychener worries about most are those who fall in the chronically bullied. In this group Rychener gave hopeful reports with 52 fewer students in this category.

"That to me is the best news," said Rychener. "When it comes to bullying, it is the chronically bullied, especially at a young age, that you are going to see problems down the line."