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Grand Forks School District prepared to make changes in response to bullying, suicidal thoughts revealed in survey

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GRAND FORKS, ND (WDAZ-TV) -- Ranking the risk.

Shocking numbers come out of a recent survey of middle and high-school students in the Grand Forks Public School District.

WDAZ's Scott Cook joins us with what parents need to look out for.

The district just got the results of 2017's Youth Risk Behavior Survey.

It revealed that more than 1/3 of all middle schoolers in the Grand Forks District reported being bullied on school property.

Tonight, the school says it's taking action.

It's an issue that extends well outside of the school yard.

"Cyber bullying of course is on the increase. More girls report being cyber bullied than boys," says Sarah Shimek, Character Education and Prevention Coordinator, GF School District.

Along with bullying on school grounds; another twenty percent of students reported being bullied online through social media.

"We know there are different trends, different drugs, different platforms that kids can get bullied on are all changing daily. So we also need to be willing to change and be flexible with our programming too," says Shimek.

Another finding of the survey? More than thirteen percent of middle school students have tried alcohol -- with the average age of their first drink coming at 10 or 11 years old as opposed to 13 in the previous survey.

And for high school students? More than fifteen percent report binge-drinking at least once a month.

"One of the things we are seeing not only here but across the country is an Increase in feelings of hopelessness and depression, suicidal thoughts," says Shimek.

The district noticed a similar trend on the last survey, done in 2015, and implemented the 'Sources of Strength' suicide prevention program in response, last year.

"When students tell us how they feel, we want to respond. We want to be proactive and we want to take it very seriously which we did by adding that program," says Shimek.

The district says it will discuss this years results with other community resources such as Altru, the CVIC, SafeKids and others to see what sorts of resources they can offer.