Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance – United States, 2009

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Nearly three-quarters of American students – 72.5 percent – have drunk alcohol by the end of 12th grade, according the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Within the same time frame, 31.5 percent of these students had been in a physical fight, 7.4 percent were forced to have sexual intercourse, and 20.2 percent had  taken drugs such as Vicodin, Adderall, or Percocet without a prescription.

The Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance system assesses such “risky” behaviors of young adults in six categories: injuries and violence, tobacco use, alcohol and drug use, sexual behaviors, dietary behaviors and physical activity that put them most at risk for injury or death. This report displays the findings of the survey, which was completed by high school students in 42 states.

The prevalence of some behaviors differed significantly between certain subpopulations of high school students. White students were most likely to be bullied on school property, for example, while Hispanic students were mostly likely to have attempted suicide, and male students were more likely than females to smoke cigarettes regularly.

Though the incidence of these behaviors has decreased since the early 1990’s, authors of the report conclude that high school students are still engaging in risky behaviors. More effective school health programs and other interventions are necessary, they say, to reduce the risks these youth are creating for themselves.

Free, 148 pages.