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NEWS RELEASES 2002-03

NEWS RELEASES 2002-03 :: JANUARY 9, 2003

2001 NORTH CAROLINA YOUTH RISK BEHAVIOR SURVEYS YIELD POSITIVE RESULTS

Overall, North Carolina middle and high school students exhibited more positive trends in health behaviors, according to the 2001 North Carolina Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS).

Results from the 2001 North Carolina Middle School YRBS found that the majority of the changes in health behaviors between 1995 and 2001 were positive, particularly with respect to tobacco and alcohol use, marijuana use, and suicidal thoughts. However, the prevalence of some health risk behaviors measured by the YRBS remains high. In particular, a large percentage of North Carolina middle school students appear to be overweight when compared to national norms. In addition, drug use (other than alcohol and tobacco) has generally not improved since 1995.

"I'm pleased to see that middle and high school students are, for the most part, making wise choices when it comes to their health; however, we still have a long way to go," State Superintendent Mike Ward said. "It's important for everyone to work together to develop and implement programs that will continue this positive trend and target areas where additional emphasis is needed."

The Middle School YRBS also found disparities among gender, grade, and ethnic subgroups on several indicators. For example, tobacco, alcohol and other drug use are much more common at higher grade level. Male students are more likely to engage in violence-related behavior and substance abuse at an early age, while females are more likely to report undesirable weight control behaviors. Also, the majority of the differences seen between students of different ethnic backgrounds imply that non-White students are at higher risk for negative physical and psychological health outcomes.

High school students demonstrated a similar trend in the 2001 North Carolina High School YRBS, with the majority of the changes in health behaviors between 1993 and 2001 being positive, particularly with respect to motor vehicle safety, weapon possession, fighting, alcohol and inhalant use, and suicidal thoughts. Again, there was a high prevalence for a few health-risk behaviors including the fact that a large portion of North Carolina high school students appear to be overweight when compared to national norms. Use of cocaine and steroids increased as did the percentage of students who reported avoiding school because of safety concerns.

There also are gender, grade level and ethnic disparities among high school students on several indicators. Male high school students are more likely to report engaging in violent behavior, engaging in unsafe motor vehicle behaviors, and abusing alcohol and other drugs. Females were more likely to report undesirable weight control behaviors and psychological distress. Students in higher grade levels were more likely to report drinking alcohol, smoking marijuana, and drinking and driving. Students in lower grade levels were more likely to report being involved in violence, but also were more likely to report engaging in physical activity. Black students were generally less likely to report abusing tobacco, alcohol and other drugs but also were less likely to eat healthier foods and engage in physical activity.

The 2001 Youth Risk Behavior Survey was produced by the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and is intended to assess health risk behaviors that contribute to some of the leading causes of death and injury among children and adolescents. The results of the 2001 North Carolina Middle and High School Youth Risk Behavior Surveys will help North Carolina health professionals, educators and policymakers focus and intensify their efforts to improve school health education policies and programs.

A complete copy of the report is available on DPI's Web site at http://www.ncpublicschools.org/accountability/researchandeval/youthrisk by clicking on the appropriate link. For more information, please contact Brad McMillen, Education Research and Evaluation Consultant, Accountability Services, DPI, 919.807.3808, or by email, bmcmille@dpi.state.nc.us.

About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 107 charter schools serving over 1.5 million students in kindergarten through high school graduation. The agency is responsible for all aspects of the state's public school system and works under the direction of the North Carolina State Board of Education.


For more information:
NCDPI Communications and Information, 919.807.3450.