Governor Douglas & Officials Announce Results of 2003 Youth Risk Behavior Survey
For Immediate Release: October 15, 2003
Contact: Jason Gibbs
RICHMOND, VT—Governor Jim Douglas was joined by state health and education officials today at Camels Hump Middle School in Richmond to release the 2003 Youth Risk Behavior Survey results.
The Youth Risk Behavior Survey measures behaviors that can negatively affect the health of Vermont’s youth such as smoking, alcohol and other drug use, violence, and diet and exercise.
“This year’s survey shows that young people in Vermont have made some great strides in making healthy decisions,” said Governor Douglas. “We are proud of these young people. All Vermonters should support the positive changes our youth have made.”
“I’m very encouraged by this year’s survey results,” said Dr. Paul Jarris, health commissioner. “We are seeing significant decreases in many risk behaviors. Over the past six years, youth smoking has declined by 44 percent and drinking by 22 percent.”
“This survey is an important tool for educators,” said Education Commissioner David Larsen. “We know, for example, that parental involvement in their children’s education is a key factor in academic achievement. Three-quarters of parents talk with their children daily about school. This reminds educators that parents are involved partners in the education process.”
“This proves that given the information, environment and encouragement they need, young people can and do make healthy choices,” continued Governor Douglas.
The Youth Risk Behavior Survey is conducted every two years in participating supervisory unions throughout the state. In 2003, 31,814 eighth and twelfth grade students in 153 Vermont schools participated in the survey.
Among this year’s findings:
- Cigarette smoking continues its decline, especially among younger students (18% of students smoked prior to age 13, down from 21% in 2001 and 28% in 1999).
- Students are finding it harder to get cigarettes (69% of students report that it is easy to get cigarettes compared to 74% in 1999).
- Alcohol use is declining (39% of students drink alcohol, down from 50% in 1997).
- 25% of students used marijuana, relatively unchanged from 26% in 2001.
- Heroin and other drug use essentially were unchanged (3% of students used heroin, unchanged from 3% in 2001 and 4% in 1999).
- Two-thirds (67%) of students exercise aerobically three or more times per week.
- Most students talk with their parents about school (75% of students said their parents talked with them about school every day or week).
- 35% of students spend three or more hours per school day watching TV, playing video games or using the computer for fun.