Students in Crisis

Students today face many issues in their life and the world around them. Watching the news, we are confronted daily with stories of bullying, the Opioid crisis, and violence in communities. To better help adolescents we need to understand their situations as well as the resources available to support them in their times of need.

In researching this topic, I learned about the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Systems (YRBSS) which is biannual data collection completed by the Center of Disease Control. The YRBSS is an anonymous survey offered to students in grades 9th-12th to monitor behaviors that contribute to the leading causes of morbidity and mortality among youth and adults—unintentional injuries and violence, sexual behaviors, alcohol and other drug use, tobacco use, unhealthy dietary behaviors, and inadequate physical activity. In 2014 the leading causes of death among person ages 10-24 in the United States were the following: 23% motor vehicle crashes, 17% suicide, 17% other unintentional injuries, 14% homicide, and 29% other causes. The YRBSS information can be used to plan support and education for students.

The table below contains some of the statistics from the 2015 YRBSS report, with a sample size of 15,624 students.

81% rarely or never wore a bicycle helmet 42% texted or sent an email while driving 20% rode with a driver who was drunk
16% were electronically bullied 20% were bullied on school property 11% experienced sexual dating violence
30% felt sad or hopeless 18% seriously considered committing suicide 15% made a plan about how they would attempt suicide
31% currently use cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco, or electronic vapor products 33% currently drink alcohol


22% currently use marijuana
17% have taken prescription drugs without a prescription 30% currently sexually active 14% did not use any contraceptive method during last sexual intercourse
21% drank or used drugs before last sexual intercourse 14% obese

16% overweight

64% do not eat breakfast daily


70% do not attend physical education classes five days per week 42% play video/computer games or used a computer for three or more hours a day 25% watch three or more hours of television a day

I am not a mental health professional, so I do not offer up solutions to these problems. However, as a parent and educator, talking with your child about their life on a regular basis helps with prevention. Sitting down each night at the dinner table, without technology, is a simple way to connect with your child and as a family. Additionally, it will take a united effort between families, schools, and community led by mental health experts to create solutions for these issues. Listed below are resources for you to access to learn more.

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