• Community Risk Assessment

    Priority Risk Factors

    A thorough review of indicators for risk factors and problem behaviors in the Lower Dauphin community was conducted from September to November 2001. This data was compared with information from county, state and national levels and compiled into a report for review by a committee of interested community members in early November 2001.

    This Data Analysis Committee met to review data collected from a number of sources to pinpoint the problem behaviors and risk factors that are of the highest priority in the Lower Dauphin community. The committee studied community, county, state and demographic data, analyzed the data, and developed final recommendations for the Community Prevention Network's approval at its November 2001 meeting.

    After several hours of review, the committee selected the problem behaviors of Substance Abuse and School Drop-Out and the risk factors of Availability of Drugs, Family Management Problems, and Lack of Commitment to Schools.

    The Substance Abuse problem behavior was selected because of the rather shocking statistics in terms of the past 30-day use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs among our 8th, 10th, and 12th grade students when compared with the national average as well as the lifetime use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs among these same students when compared with the national average.

    The School Drop-Out problem behavior was selected because of the school district’s high school drop-out rates. Dauphin County has one of the four highest drop-out rates in the state and Lower Dauphin ranks fourth in Dauphin County. Considering that close to 75 percent of our community’s graduating seniors further their education at a post-secondary degree-granting institution, the district’s drop-out rates are far close to the state average.

    The Availability of Drugs risk factor was selected because, at all grade levels surveyed, the school district’s student reporting of drugs, alcohol and tobacco being readily available in the community was much higher than the national average. In addition, our students reported on the Pennsylvania Youth Survey that drugs and firearms are available in their community at a higher rate than the state average.

    The Family Management Problems risk factor was selected because we have seen a 70 percent increase in the number of child abuse/neglect cases reported to Dauphin County Social Services from 1996-97 to 2000-01. In addition, our students reported on the Pennsylvania Youth Survey poor family supervision and poor family discipline problems at a higher rate than the state average.

    The Lack of Commitment to Schools risk factor was selected because of our school drop-out rates as compared with the state average and the fact that our drop-out percentages have increased from 3.4 percent to 3.9 percent in a period of five school years. Also, the Pennsylvania Youth Survey results show that our students commitment to schools is lower than both the state and national average.

    The Academic Failure Beginning in Late Elementary School risk factor was selected because of our student retention rates at the elementary level has increased 100 percent in the past three school years and an internal school district survey found that Lower Dauphin teachers reported more than one-fifth of the students in their classes as having moderate or serious academic concerns. Also, the Pennsylvania Youth Survey showed that our students report poor academic performance at rates higher than both the state and national averages.

    The Friends Who Engage in the Problem Behavior risk factor was selected because our percentage of students reporting friends who use alcohol increased 12 percent for beer from the 1999-2000 to the 2000-01 school years and students using drugs also trended upwards during the time period studied. Additionally, the Pennsylvania Youth Survey found that friends' use of drugs risk factor sale scores for Lower Dauphin was higher than the state average.

    Four of the five priority risk factors (Family Management Problems, Lack of Commitment to Schools, Academic Failure Beginning in Late Elementary School and Friends Who Engage in the Problem Behavior) impacted on both of the problem behaviors selected as being a priority for the Lower Dauphin community. The Availability of Drugs risk factor only applied to the Substance Abuse problem behavior.