The great majority of high school students don't use drugs or alcohol and more than two-thirds of middle school students aren't bullied, a survey of more than 5,000 Palo Alto students taken last fall shows.
But hundreds of high school students reported regular and often excessive alcohol use, which troubles school and health officials.
And almost one-third of middle school students reported being bullied in the last year.
The results were presented Monday night at a meeting sponsored by the Palo Alto Drug and Alcohol Community Cooperative, which includes school and city staff and health officials, among others.
The surveys on drug and alcohol use have been taken since 2004. Questions about bullying were added for middle-school students this year.
In all, 2,960 high school students and 2,302 middle school students -- roughly 80 percent of the students -- participated in the confidential, anonymous and voluntary survey.
"The majority of high school students are making healthy decisions" regarding drug and alcohol use, Becky Beacom of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation said, summarizing the survey results. "(But) the number of students engaging in high-risk behavior is of great concern."
Roughly eight of 10 Paly and Gunn students report using alcohol a few times a year or not at all. The Paly and Gunn numbers were also very close on never using marijuana (72 percent at Paly and 79 percent at Gunn).
But, combining both Gunn and Paly results, 343 students reported drinking monthly or more frequently and 435 students reported having five or more drinks at a party when they do drink.
"That's a concern," Beacom said.
Students themselves are concerned about their classmates who binge drink, she added.
The perceived use of alcohol among students is much higher than the students report using, Beacom said, which is also a concern. "People can be lulled by the perception that everyone is doing it."
The survey results on middle school bullying showed that 69 percent of the students had not been bullied in the last year, Sharon Ofek, JLS assistant principal, said.
"Most people think it is happening more than it is," she added.
Bullying was broken down between physical, verbal, social and cyber bullying.
Still, the survey showed that about 30 percent of middle school students were bullied in the last year.
"Our students, for the most part, know what they should say, what they should do and how to behave," Ofek said.
She said she tells students, "You don't have to be friends with everyone, but you shouldn't be mean to anyone. And they know that."
Ofek said she was concerned that students who witness bullying may feel less safe while at school.
Follow-up meetings on the middle school bullying survey results and the high school alcohol and drug use survey results will be held at 7 p.m. March 16, at the Palo Alto Unified School District offices at 25 Churchill Ave.
Complete results of the surveys are online at www.PADACC.org.