By Tara Gibson - January 16, 2020
It can be difficult to determine where exactly to focus when it comes to improving the health of youth as well as identifying specific risk behaviors and school health policies that should be worked on. That’s where a Youth Risk Behavior Survey comes in. The CDC introduced this monitoring system to help support school-based health efforts with the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, which is the only surveillance system in the United States designed to monitor a wide range of priority health risk behaviors among representative samples of high school students at the national, state, and local levels, according to the CDC. The survey is one of the major sources of information about certain risk behaviors and is used by federal agencies to track several risk behaviors.
Every two years the Idaho State Department of Education conducts their own Youth Risk Behavior Study (YRBS) as a part of a commitment to the wellbeing, safety, and success for all students in the state. Many organizations, such as the State Department of Education, Idaho school districts, and the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, utilize the results of this survey to help guide efforts when it comes to securing funding and assessing trends over time. The Youth Risk Behavior Survey measures behaviors that fall into the six following categories:
The Idaho State Department of Education also explains in their survey results that the YRBS also addresses health-related topics including obesity, oral health, asthma, sunlight and UV light exposure, food insecurity, homelessness, and school-based social support and stability.
The Idaho Youth Risk Behavior Survey was completed by a total of 1,213 students from 45 public high schools in Idaho. According to the survey results, the school response rate was 88%, the student response rate was 88%, and the overall response rate was 78%.
It was shocking to see some of the results, including the percentage of Idaho students who carried a weapon on school property. These weapons include a gun, knife, or club during one of more of the past 30 days. Overall 7.1% of students answered that they had brought a weapon to school within the month. In the below chart you can see how the percentages were broken down by grade.
Over three-fourths of the Idaho high school students reported feeling safe and secure at school most of the time. With that being said, 8% of Idaho students reported that they had been threatened or injured with a weapon on school property during the previous 12 months according to the survey results. With most schools having a strict no weapon policy, the percentages of students who were either carrying weapons to school or threatened by weapons are certainly higher than school officials would want. One in 10 students also reported being in a fight on school property during the previous year.
Another key survey question for Idaho students surrounded bullying. Unfortunately, 21.2% of students surveyed overall reported that they had experienced bullying within the last 12 months. Below the chart breaks down the percentages per grade.
Bullying can have a huge impact on students, especially during their adolescent years. The National Institute of Health explains that bullying can lead to physical injury, social problems, emotional problems, and even death. For this reason, many schools and districts have put a large focus on identifying bullying instances and working to reduce or eliminate them to protect their students.
One of the toughest survey questions asked students whether why had seriously considered attempting suicide within the past 12 months. A shocking 21.6% of students overall responded that they had considered attempting suicide. The below chart breaks down the percentages further by grade.
The survey results tell us that 39% of Idaho students felt so sad or hopeless almost every day for two weeks or more during the past 12 months that they stopped doing some usual activities and one in 10 students attempted suicide one or more times during the previous 12 months.
Today’s high school students have certainly been facing higher stress and anxiety rates when compared to the past. For this reason it’s extremely important for schools and districts to address mental health and provide resources to students who are struggling. Communication and supportive peer groups are a good way to start. Talking with students who are going through a hard time could make a huge difference, as they’ll know they have somebody to rely on.
By conducting the Youth Risk Behavior Survey in Idaho schools and other organizations have a much better grasp on how students are acting and feeling and can take action to address some of the concerning statistics.
Implementing school safety initiatives and technologies can be useful in addressing the bullying, weapon, and mental health concerns within school communities.
An anonymous two-way tip text system could be helpful for both students and staff, as students would have the ability to report any concerns anonymously to school administrators. As students may be reluctant to go to a trusted teacher in person, due to fears, having an anonymous way to report bullying incidents or peers with weapons could be a great alternative for them to utilize. Educators would also have a good understanding of what is happening on school grounds, whether it’s bullying rates or other safety threats.
Mobile panic button technology has also transformed the school safety space. With the touch of a button, users simultaneously reach 9-1-1, first responders, and staff with critical information on what kind of emergency is occurring. Whether it be an active assailant on premises or a medical emergency in the lunch room, administrators can rely on the Rave Panic Button to ensure a swifter and faster emergency response.
Tara is a Marketing Coordinator on the Rave Mobile Safety marketing team. She loves writing about all things K-12, State & Local, Higher Ed, Corporate, and Healthcare, and manages the Rave social media channels. When she's not working, she's taking care of her smiley, shoe eating, Instagram-famous fur baby, Enzo!
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