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Youth Risk Survey Results Unveiled; Advice Recommended

See what city officials say can be done to help kids struggling with certain issues.

Many of the rates of dangerous behaviors seen in Waltham students have not changed, but city officials have offered some advice on how to help students avoid such the plight of certain behaviors.

The Youth Risk Behavior Survey, conducted bi-annually since 2002, has respondents in the middle schools and high school answer questions on various issues such as drug use, sexual behavior and suicidal tendencies. This year, 1,193 students responded to the survey, which was optional, according to the Executive Director of the Waltham Partnership for Youth, which administered the survey. 

The results data was presented during a public forum on Thursday, Oct. 25.

For the full results, click on the PDFs in the photo box to the right and check out highlights of the results below.

Middle Schools

VIOLENCE-RELATED BEHAVIORS

  • Fights: 43 percent of students said they have been involved in a fight in 2012 compared to the 51 percent results in 2010.
  • Bullying: 42 percent reported they were bullied in this year’s survey compared to 43 percent in 2010.
  • Cyber-bullying: Cyber-bullying levels remained level at 18 percent.

SEXUAL BEHAVIOR

  • Had sex at least once: 9 percent reported they had sex on the 2012 survey compared to 12 percent reported in the prior survey.
  • AIDS/HIV education: 75 percent reported they had been taught about AIDS/HIV prevention in school.

ILLEGAL DRUG USE

  • Inhalant use: use of inhalants dropped by 6 percent to 7 percent.
  • Marijuana use: Marijuana use fell by 2 percent to 11 percent.

HIGH SCHOOL

SUICIDE TENDENCIES

  • Suicide attempts stayed level at 15 percent.
  • 13 percent of students reported having seriously considered suicide, down from 14 percent during the prior survey.

SCHOOL SAFETY

  • School safety: 6.2 percent of students reported not having gone to school because they felt unsafe. That is up from 6 percent during the prior survey.
  • Relationship safety: 7.4 percent of students reported having been physical or sexually hurt by a date or romantic partner. That is down from 9.8 percent from the prior survey.

WAYS TO ASSIST STUDENTS

Overall, schools and parents need to educate students against the “culture of use” that depicts acceptable use of drugs, alcohol and other harmful substances, according to Newton South High School counselor Rich Catrambone. 

Catrambone spoke to the audience on how to assist students who struggle with substance abuse, suicide or other issues teenagers typically cope with.

Staying actively involved in a student’s life is key to helping them avoid dangerous behaviors, he said, as well as teaching them to make healthy life, eating and learning decisions will help them avoid future problems. 

“Kids need parents. They don’t need more friends,” he said.

Despite the advice, Mayor Jeanette McCarthy noted that many more people typically attend meetings about bus stop issues and other items that have a more immediate impact on them than critical issues such as their children avoiding dangerous behaviors. 

Dr. Kathryn Seifert October 30, 2012 at 05:08 PM
Terrific survey. Efforts to educate parents to be involved with their children is very important. Dr. Kathy Seifert http://drkathyseifert.com

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