The North Dakota Department of Public Instruction has released a statement on our most recent Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS). Schools complete this survey every other year. The most recent results are from this school year. Our high school students (9-12) took the survey this past fall and we recently received our results. The survey compares our school data to all other students in the state. This year approximately 10,000 students took the survey. The last time our school district surveyed our entire high school was during the 2009 school year. When I compared the 2017 YRBS to the 2009 YRBS positive results emerged, along with a few concerning areas.
Our students reported less school violence. For example in 2009, 9% of students said they carried a weapon such as a gun, knife, or club on at least 1 day during the 30 days before the survey. In 2017, we received Insufficient Cell Size (ICS) which means there were less than three students that reported that they carried a weapon. Students reported a decrease in physical violence on school property. In 2009, 8.1% of our students were involved in a physical altercation at school. In 2017, 4.2% of our students reported they were involved in a physical altercation at school.
Tobacco use has declined in our schools. In 2009, 9.1% of our students reported using tobacco before the age of 13. In 2017, 8% of our students reported using tobacco before age 13. Students who smoked cigarettes regularly have decreased from 12.7% in 2009 to 11.1% in 2017. Students who use chewing tobacco have decreased from 15.4% in 2009 to 5.1% in 2017. Students report an increase in use of e-cigarettes. In 2009, 22% of our students had used e-cigarette products compared to 22.2% in 2017.
Our students report less alcohol use. In 2009, 76.5% of our students had at least one drink of alcohol at least 1 day during their life compared to 65.5% in 2017. Binge drinking has decreased since 2009. In 2017, 12.2% of students had five or more drinks in a span of a couple hours compared to 33.3% in 2009. It appears that students are getting less alcohol from those that are of legal age. In 2009, 31.4% of students reported that they received alcohol from an individual of legal age compared to 21.4% in 2017.
Students appear to be engaging in less sexual behavior when we compare our recent results to 2009. The percentage of students that have had sexual intercourse has decreased from 34% to 26.2%. The percentage of students that consider themselves sexual active has decreased from 27.6% to 20.6%. The percentage of students who use birth control has increased from 25% to 27.3%.
Drug use appears to be stagnant. Marijuana use has increased slightly from 2009 to 4.2% in 2017. Prescription drug abuse has decreased from 10.6% in 2009 to 8.5% in 2017.
Students reported an increase in bullying and cyber bulling. In 2009, 19.5% of students reported bullying on school property compared to 22.9% in 2017. Electronic bullying increased from 4.9% in 2009 to 16.2% in 2017.
Students have reported an increase in depression and suicide ideation. In 2009, 17.7% of students reported that they felt sad or hopeless almost every day for 2 or more weeks in a row compared to 33.1% in 2017. In 2009, 9.8% of students reported that they have seriously considered suicide compared to 15.3% in 2017. In 2009, 7.3% of students reported that they had made a plan about how they would attempt suicide compared to 11% in 2017.
Overall, I am happy to see that alcohol, tobacco, sexual behavior, and drug use have declined, but I am concerned of the reported increase in bullying, depression, and suicide ideation. I hope that these findings will generate a conversation within your own home and within our community. Schools are reflections of the community in which they serve.