Fewer Kentucky students engaging in risky behaviors

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Overall, Kentucky middle and high school students are eating healthier foods and making safer choices based on data from the 2013 Kentucky Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS).

The YRBS monitors behaviors among youth and young adults that can have an impact on their health including:

• alcohol and drug use

• injury and violence (such as seat belt usage and suicide)

• nutrition

• physical activity

• sexual behaviors

• tobacco use

These risk behaviors contribute to the leading causes of death, disability, and social problems among youth and adults in the U.S.

The Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) in partnership with the Family Resource and Youth Service Centers administered the survey in spring 2013. Students were selected to participate in the survey from randomly chosen middle and high schools throughout the state. The surveys were voluntary, anonymous, and every student had the right to refuse to answer any or all questions. Individual district, school or student data is not reported.

The YBRS is given every two years in cooperation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The results are used to create awareness, develop programs and policies, set goals, support health-related legislation and seek funding.

2013 Kentucky Youth Risk Behavior Survey results Middle school trends from 2011 to 2013

• The percentage of students who never or rarely wore a seat belt when riding in a car decreased from 9.8 percent in 2011 to 5.4 percent in 2013.

• The percentage of students who had ever been bullied on school property increased almost 6 percent from – 43.1 percent in 2011; 48.9 percent in 2013.

• The percentage of students who ever seriously thought about killing themselves decreased – 19.1 percent in 2011; 15.0 percent in 2013.

• The percentage of students who ever had a drink of alcohol other than a few sips decreased – 31.9 percent in 2011; 26.4 percent in 2013.

• The percentage of students who ever took a prescription drug (such as OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin, codeine, Adderall, Ritalin or Xanax) without a doctor’s prescription increased – 4.4 percent in 2011; 7.1 percent in 2013.

• The percentage of students who had ever gone without eating for 24 hours or more to lose weight or to keep from gaining weight decreased – 20.4 percent in 2011; 15.9 percent in 2013.

• The percentage of students who played video games or computer games or used a computer for something that was not school work three or more hours per day on an average school day increased – 34.9 percent in 2011; 41.4 percent in 2013.

High school trends from 2011 to 2013

• The percentage of students who had been electronically bullied during the past 12 months decreased – 17.4 percent in 2011; 13.2 percent in 2013.

• The percentage of students who attempted suicide one or more times during the past 12 months decreased – 10.9 percent in 2011; 7.7 percent in 2013.

• The percentage of students who ever tried cigarette smoking, even one or two puffs, decreased – 59.2 percent in 2011; 47.1 percent in 2013.

• The percentage of students who have taken a prescription drug (such as OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin, codeine, Adderall, Ritalin or Xanax) without a doctor’s prescription one or more times during their lifetime decreased – 19.0 percent in 2011; 12.4 percent in 2013.

• The percentage of students who ever had sexual intercourse decreased – 51.8 percent in 2011; 44.7 percent in 2013.

• The percentage of students who did not drink a can, bottle or glass of soda during the past seven days increased – 17.6 percent in 2011; 21.7 percent in 2013.

• The percentage of students who ate breakfast on all of the past seven days increased – 29.9 percent in 2011; 40.1 percent in 2013.

The data show that, generally speaking, the greater the risk a student is willing to take, the lower grades the student makes in school. To view the full reports for both Kentucky middle and high school students, click here. To view the comparative 2011 data, click here.

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