Summit County – The Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) is a cross-sectional surveillance tool developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to track adolescent risk behaviors over time. Summit County Public Health (SCPH) and the Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Board (ADM) contract with Case Western University Prevention Research Center for Healthy Neighborhoods (PRCHN) to administer the YRBS in Summit County. In the 2018/2019 school year the YRBS was given to students in Summit County in grades 7th through 12th. A total of nineteen (19) middle schools and twenty (20) high schools were surveyed equaling a total of almost 19 thousand (19,000) surveys completed. “We feel strongly that the YRBS survey is one of the best tools we have to measure the overall health of our youth,” commented Donna Skoda, Health Commissioner.
The survey results inform initiatives funded by both the ADM and SCPH to address identified areas of concern and has been completed every five years since 2013. “Now that the YRBS has been completed twice, we have a real barometer of what the most pressing issues are among our youth. We look forward to using this data to fund programming that will be impactful to the areas of concern,” added Jerry Craig, Executive Director, ADM Board.
Significant Improvements / Strengths:
• Alcohol, Drugs, and Mental Health-
o Summit County prevalence rates for marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, hallucinogens, steroids, inhalants, designer drugs, and prescription pain medication use all had decreases from 2013 to 2018.
o The prevalence for Summit County high school and middle school students attempting suicide has significantly decreased from 2013 to 2018, however the rate of depression and seeking counseling for mental health has increased.
• Unintentional Injuries and Violence-
o Middle school students reported wearing seatbelts more often.
o The middle school students claimed to be electronically bullied or bullied on and off of school property less often.
o There was a decrease in High school students that reported they carried a weapon.
• Sexual Behaviors and Gambling-
o More sexually active middle school students reported using condoms.
o More middle school students reported having discussion with their family members about HIV/AIDS.
o There was a decrease in High School students who are sexually active.
o Gambling money and personal items had also decreased for high school students.
Significant Declines / Issues:
• E-cigarettes (vaping) – The explosive growth of e-cigarettes may be the most serious public health threat the nation has faced since the beginning of the overdose crisis. According to the U.S. Surgeon General, e-cigarette use nationwide grew by 900% between 2011 and 2015. In Summit County, the question of e-cigarette use wasn’t even included in the 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, though it was added to the 2018 survey.
o In 2018, 16% of middle school students and 45% of high school students had tried e-cigarettes at least once.
o Nearly 9% of middle school and 25% of high school students say they used an ecigarette in the past 30 days.
o Nearly 3% of middle school students say they started vaping before age 11, while 4% of high school students say they started vaping before age 13.
• Obesity, diet, and physical activity- Obesity rates for both middle and high school students increased from 2013 to 2018.
o For middle school students, obesity increased from 12% to 15%.
o High school students saw obesity increase from 13% to 16%.
o High school students were more likely to describe themselves as overweight in 2018 than in 2013 (31% in 2013 and 33% in 2018).
• The LGBTQ experience- One troubling set of findings from the 2018 YRBS was the selfreported experiences of LGBTQ high school students (sexual orientation was not asked of middle school youth). In the 2018 YRBS, LGBTQ youth were 2-3 times more likely than heterosexual youth to say they:
o Felt unsafe at, going to, or coming home from school in the past 30 days.
o Were physically hurt (on purpose) by someone they were dating.
o Were forced to do sexual things that they didn’t want to do.
o Were bullied in school, away from school, and electronically.
o Purposely hurt themselves.
o Felt so sad that they stopped normal activities.
o Seriously considered suicide.
o Attempted suicide.
The YRBS data is also used to analyze protective factors. Protective factors contribute to the healthy physical, social, and mental wellbeing of a child. Some protective factors for youth are known to include: Academic achievement, having parents talk to student about school, having at least one trusted teacher or adult at school, and having at least one trusted friend. Results showed that youth reporting higher numbers of protective factors were less likely to engage in health risk behaviors and more likely to engage in health-promoting behaviors compared to their peers with fewer protective factors. Promoting secure and stable environments and relationships for youth in schools and community organizations is an important step in promoting the health of our youth.
SCPH and the ADM Board are committed to protecting and improving the health and quality of life of our youth. Summit County’s schools and educational agencies played an important role in collecting this information. Our schools serve as the front line to not only protect the health of adolescents, but also helps educate them on how to live a healthy life.
The full report and data brief summary on the results of the most recent YRBS can be found at the following link: www.admboard.org/youth-risk-behavior-survey.aspx