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
|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.