Youth Health/Behavior Survey Results

From the district webpage (with links to all the info/surveys):

Results of recent state and federal surveys of health- and risk-related behavior among Seattle Public Schools middle and high school students provide a snapshot of everything from drug use and sexual behavior to how often they eat fruit and vegetables and watch television.

The state-funded Healthy Youth Survey is taken every two years by students in grades 6, 8, 10, and 12 and focuses on attitudes and health risk behaviors. Topics include gangs, physical activity, suicide, sexual activity, bullying and drug, alcohol, and tobacco use.

The federal CDC-funded Youth Risk Behavior Survey, also conducted every two years, surveys students in grades 9-12, with a focus on health risk behaviors that result in unintentional injuries and violence; tobacco use; alcohol and other drug use; sexual behaviors that contribute to HIV infection; other sexually transmitted diseases; unhealthy dietary behaviors; and physical inactivity. This survey does not ask about attitudes, beliefs, or risk and protective factors.

Both surveys were voluntary and anonymous, and were conducted at SPS high schools and middle schools in October 2012. Parents are notified about the survey and given the option to withdraw their student from participation.
(Note: published reports do not include the names of classrooms or students.)

The HYS is a state study given to all students in the grades listed. It does ask about attitudes and opinions of students.

The YRBS is a national study administered to just a sample of our 9-12 graders in the 10 comprehensive high schools. It does not ask about "atttitudes, beliefs or risk/protective factors. Interestingly, only SPS participates in the YRBS, not the entire state of Washington.
Stats for HYS for SPS:
 6th grade -
  • 87% participation rate
  • 90% said they felt safe at school
  • 22% said they had been bullied in the last 30 days
  • As you might guess, boys engage in more risky behaviors, although the rate of bullying is about even.  
  • Nearly 99% of students said they were honest or pretty honest in answering the survey.
8th grade -
  • 80% participation rate
  • 83 % said they felt safe at school
  • almost 27% said they had been bullied in the last 30 days
  • for behaviors, the numbers really change by 8th grade.  Girls report drinking in the last 30 days more than boys (11.8% to 11.6%).  It's nearly even in most categories although girls report being bullied more than boys.
  • About 97% said they were honest or pretty honest in answering the survey.
10th grade -
  • 50% participation rate;
  • 86% said they felt safe at school,
  • 17% said they had been bullied
  • Behaviors - again the girls are keeping pace, outdrinking the boys, 25.9%-24.2%. 
  • About 87% said they were honest or pretty honest in answering the survey.
12 grade -
  • 39% participation rate;
  • 88% said they felt safe at school,
  • 13% said they had been bullied
  • Behaviors - the boys go out ahead in every category.  Most worrying? 26% of the boys report binge drinking in past 2 weeks.   Binge drinking jumps up for boys by nearly 8 points for every year reported.
  • 96 % said they were honest or pretty honest in answering the survey.
One data point that drops steadily every year from 6th grade on?  Enjoyed being at school over the past year. 

From the YRB survey:
  • According to Seattle Public Schools’ 2012 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 71% of high school students/88% of middle school students have never had sexual intercourse.
  • 61% of sexually active high school students used a condom at last intercourse.
  • High school current alcohol use has been dropping significantly, from 32% in 2008 to 24% in
    • Liquor is the primary type of alcohol consumed by high school drinkers. Current marijuana use rates in all grades have remained statistically unchanged, and preliminary analysis of data indicates that 39%of high school marijuana users report their marijuana came from a medical marijuana dispensary.
  • Rates of riding with a drinking driver have decreased significantly agmong 8th grade/high school students.
  • Bullying rates reduced among 6th graders since 2010 but the 8th grade rates are increasing.  Overall, SPS bullying rates are lower than state averages. 
  • Since 2006, there has not been a significant change in the rates of depression among students.  According to the 2012 data, 8% of high school students attempted suicide in the past year.  (Note; this is keeping in line with the national average.)
  • Rates of 8th grade students getting 60+ minutes of physical activity 5+ days per week increased from 34% in 2008 to 49% in 2012.
  • 8th grade rates of watching 3+ hours of TV on an average school day decreased from 37% in 2006 to 25% in 2012 and from 28% in 2008 to 19% in 2012 among high school students.  (It is unclear if this is watching TV or tv shows/movies which could be watched on a computer or phone.) 
How is the data used?

These surveys provide important information about our students which can be used to guide school policy and programs. Schools and departments can use these results to:

• Learn the prevalence of health-related behaviors among students

• Evaluate or improve existing school programs, projects and school health education programs

• Support modifying or creating new policies that promote health

• Track progress toward meeting school health and health promotion program goals

• Provide information needed to seek funding and other support for new initiatives

• Understand the school climate

• Contribute to the School Improvement Planning process

Seattle Public Schools also shares this data with local government and community agencies.  These groups use the data for much the same reasons –developing, assessing, and improving programs to improve the health of our city’s youth.


Anonymous said…
Need to read it more carefully but the suicide stats are disturbing. 8th graders are at almost 10 % for suicide attempts.
And what is with the sex question? They ask only about intercourse, what about kissing and safer forms of sexual activity like mutual masturbtion?
The go on about cigarettes a bit much as well..

Well, the press release does say that many students believe others are having sexual intercourse but I suspect that if they had asked "have you engaged in sexual activity beyond kissing", the answers might be different.
Anonymous said…
Melissa - are there specifics for individual schools? Interested
Anonymous said…
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Anonymous said…

I believe the intention is to understand the prevalence of risky behaviors from a health standpoint, and not of the "slippery slope" variety, such as kissing and safer sexual activity. I understand there is a greater prevalence of acts such as anal sex with the current generation as it's perceived as safer (for risk of pregnancy) and also seen by some young women as preserving their virginity, whereas in fact it's a risky behavior for STD's. I wonder if this question was worded differently to include a range of risky sexual behaviors if the numbers would be higher. But I imagine in a survey given to kids, it would be difficult to delve into these finer points without causing some controversy with parents.

Anonymous said…
it is a bit odd that they want to know how many puffs of tobacco or weed you have ever had, or sips of booze, but sex is intercourse or nothing. Sex is arguably the riskiest behavior physically and emotionally that kids under driving age will engage in.

concerned said…
Thank you for your interesting article! In fact, I am also concerned with this research. I realized that I felt older than I really was, that I had no energy for anything, and that I was wasting too much time on nothing. told me about yoga and Ayurveda and I think I'll try it. I hope it will be effective for improving your health. All the best!

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