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NEWS RELEASES 2007-08 :: FEBRUARY 15, 2008


North Carolina high school students have improved their health habits in some areas, but still need to focus on others, such as maintaining a healthy weight, according to the recently released 2007 North Carolina Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS).

Since 1993, fewer students have tried alcohol for the first time before age 13, have drunk alcohol and have driven or ridden in a car with a driver who had been drinking. In addition, fewer students say they've used tobacco, marijuana and other types of drugs, or carried a weapon, such as a gun, knife or club, or were threatened with one. There also has been a significant decline in the number of students who attempted suicide, were involved in a physical fight, or who had their first experience with sexual intercourse before age 13.

The prevalence of some health risk behaviors measured by the YRBS, however, remains high. Since 2005, an increased percentage of high school students appear to be at-risk for becoming overweight as measured by body mass index calculations. Use of cocaine and injected illegal drugs increased, as did the percentage of students who say they have avoided school due to safety concerns. There also was an increase in the percentage of students who say they feel alone in their life.

State Superintendent June Atkinson said that she was pleased to see the progress shown on some of the indicators. "To continue to help students avoid risky or dangerous behavior, we need to support families and communities so that young people learn to build healthy habits. Coordinated school health programs offer a good approach to increase young people's long-term health."

The guiding mission of the North Carolina State Board of Education is that "every public school student will graduate from high school, globally competitive for work and postsecondary education and prepared for life in the 21st century." One of the five goals this mission builds on is that North Carolina students will be healthy and responsible.

"School health is a public health priority in North Carolina," said State Health Director, Dr. Leah Devlin, "as is increasing our high school graduation rates. We know that there is a closely linked and strong relationship between academic achievement and the adolescent health-risk behaviors measured by the YRBS. We are committed to working with our education partners to promote health and eliminate disparities in health and in academic achievement."

The 2007 YRBS was produced by the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to assess health risk behaviors that contribute to some of the leading causes of death and injury among children and adolescents. The NC Department of Public Instruction and the NC Department of Health and Human Services have administered the voluntary survey at the state level since 1993. Data is reported statewide and regionally in the aggregate and cannot be traced back to the school district or student. In 2007, the YRBS was completed by 3,506 high school students in 71 public high schools in North Carolina.

The 2007 YRBS data are available on the Department of Public Instruction's Web site at For more information, please contact NCDPI HIV/AIDS Policies and Programs Consultant Sarah Langer at 919.807.3867 or Carol Schriber, NC DHHS Public Affairs Office, 919.733.9190.

About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 126 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 Communication and Information Division, 919.807.3450.