Nearly seven in 10 New Jersey high school students -- 69 percent -- reported drinking alcohol in their lifetime, and 55 percent started when they were 15 years old or younger, according to a state Department of Education survey of public school students.
About 43 percent said they drank alcohol within the last 30 days and nearly 24 percent said they had engaged in binge drinking.
Despite what appears as a high rate of illegal drinking, the trend is decidedly downward with rates lower than in previous years. In 2001, 83.4 percent of high school students said they drank alcohol in their lifetimes, 55 percent in the last 30 days, and 33 percent said they had engaged in binge drinking.
Females reported a higher rate of drinking than males, 71 percent vs. 68 percent. Whites had the highest rate of drinking at 75 percent, with Hispanics a close second 73.5 percent. African American students reported a 60 percent rate of having had alcohol at some point.