Lincoln – Nebraska high school students appear to be engaging in less risky behavior than in previous years, according to results from Nebraska's 2011 Youth Risk Behavioral Survey (YRBS).
Some of the areas showing greatest improvement since the survey began in 1991 include tobacco and alcohol use and alcohol-impaired driving.
"We're pleased to see declines in tobacco and alcohol use among high school students in Nebraska," said Nebraska's Chief Medical Officer and Director of Public Health for the Department of Health and Human Services, Dr. Joann Schaefer. "Ongoing prevention efforts are working but there's still more work to do including addressing a lack of nutrition and physical activity."
Alcohol and tobacco use in particular saw large improvements over the past 20 years, especially 2005-2011:
Unfortunately sedentary behavior and poor eating habits continue to be common practice for many high school students:
"Poor health and risky behavior choices can be barriers to learning. Understanding and addressing these barriers systematically will help maximize the academic performance of Nebraska students," said Dr. Roger Breed, Nebraska's Commissioner of Education.
New to the 2011 survey were questions on distracted driving, including texting and talking on a cell phone.
Nearly half of all high school students texted or e-mailed while driving during the past 30 days, and talked on a cell phone while driving. These percentages jumped to 70 percent and 75 percent, respectively, among high school seniors.
The 2011 survey included two questions on bullying:
The 2011 Nebraska YRBS surveyed 3,832 public high school students in grades nine through 12 during the fall of the 2010 to 2011 school year. The survey focused primarily on injury and violence, mental health and suicide, tobacco, alcohol, and drug use, sexual behaviors, weight management, dietary behaviors, and physical activity.
This data is critical for planning and evaluating prevention programs for youth in our state.
To see the full YRBS report, go to http://dhhs.ne.gov/Documents/2011_YRBS.pdf.