New report tracks risk-related behavior among Hawaii’s youth

How are Hawaii’s keiki faring when it comes to health and safety issues?

On Thursday, the Hawaii State Department of Health, Department of Education (HIDOE), and University of Hawaii released high school data from the 2015 Hawaii Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) for the state and all four counties.

The YRBS is a bi-annual survey that regularly monitors the health risk behaviors of public, non-charter school students statewide. Over 12,000 Hawaii students in grades 6 through 12 participated in the 2015 survey.

Topics covered in the survey include unintentional injuries and violence; tobacco, alcohol, and other drug use; sexual behaviors that contribute to unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV infection; unhealthy dietary behaviors; and physical inactivity. The survey also monitors the percentages of students affected by obesity and asthma.

Here are a few categories and results:

Physical fighting: 15 percent of high school students reported that they were in a fight at least once during the 12 months before the survey.

Bullying: 1 in 5 high school students reported that they were bullied on school property during the same time period.

Alcohol use: 1 in 4 high school students reported that they drank alcohol within the 30 days before the survey.

Smoking: 90 percent of Hawaii’s high school students do not smoke cigarettes. However, many have tried using electronic smoking devices, with 1 in 4 reporting that they currently use electronic smoking devices.

Mental health: 29.5 percent of high school students reported feeling sad or hopeless almost every day for two or more weeks in a row at least once in their lifetime. Rates of attempted suicide over the past 12 months has steadily decreased since 1993, but remain unacceptably high at 11 percent.

Physical activity: 20 percent achieved the national recommendation of at least 60 minutes per day on each of the seven days before the survey. However, sedentary time continues to increase, with 2 in 5 high school students spending three hours or more per day playing video games or using a computer for non-school purposes.

Survey procedures protect students’ privacy by allowing for anonymous and voluntary participation. The data is gathered from students in public high schools across the State of Hawaii. In a change from the previous years’ survey administration, parents were offered the opportunity to “opt-out,” rather than requiring a form to “opt-in” to the process. This resulted in a 30 to 40 percent increase in response rate, providing a more comprehensive picture of student behavior across the state and all four counties.

The Hawaii YRBS is part of the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). View the full report here.

National YRBS survey results were also released today by CDC. View the national report here.

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