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Survey shows rates of risky behaviors among Idaho teens

Texting, injuries, drug use, obesity, sex:

To help deter kids from risky drug behaviors, the Grangeville High School IDFY (Idaho Drug Free Youth) group put on a “Don’t Be A Dummy” skit at Grangeville Elementary Middle School in fall of 2015.

Photo by Lorie Palmer
To help deter kids from risky drug behaviors, the Grangeville High School IDFY (Idaho Drug Free Youth) group put on a “Don’t Be A Dummy” skit at Grangeville Elementary Middle School in fall of 2015.



Survey shows suicide contemplation up among teens

In the intentional or unintentional injury category, several statistics stand out:

The percentage of students who considered suicide is up from 14.2 percent in 2009 to 19.8 percent in 2015. The percentage of those who attempted suicide in 2015 was 20 percent.

In 2013, suicide was the second leading cause of death among youth aged 10 to 19 in Idaho.

According to results of the 2015 Idaho Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 17 percent of students surveyed made a plan to commit suicide and 10 percent reported attempting suicide in previous years.

Female students (27 percent) were more likely than males (13 percent) to consider suicide. Females (31 percent) were also more likely to report they had tried to hurt themselves, such as through self-cutting, without wanting to die. Females (43 percent) were more likely than males (21 percent) to report they felt sad or hopeless.

Of all students who considered suicide, 43 percent were students who received mostly Ds and Fs; 27 percent earned mostly Cs; 20 percent earned Bs; and 14 percent had mostly As as grades.

Did you know almost half of high school students admit to texting while driving? On the bright side, only 30 percent say they have used tobacco in the past 30 days.

Information recently released in the 2015 Idaho Youth Risk Behavior Survey shows data gathered through 1,760 students in 48 public high schools in Idaho during the spring of 2015. The school response rate was 94 percent, the student response rate was 81 percent, and the overall response rate was 77 percent. Students surveyed were in grades nine through 12. Schools are randomly chosen by the state and in various years Idaho County students have been surveyed.

Survey results in each of six categories (injury, tobacco use, alcohol and drugs, sexual behaviors, poor diet and physical activity) are presented in the report using text, graphs and percentages as well as comparisons with previous years’ reports. A high correlation of students with lower grades (Cs. Ds and Fs) participated in risky behaviors.

Highlights in the categories include the following:

Unintentional and intentional injuries:

  • 49 percent of students reported texting or e-mailing while driving within the past 30 days.
  • 32 percent felt sad or helpless for two or more weeks in a row so that they stopped doing some usual activities within the past 12 months. Of students who said they were bullied, 50 percent earned grades of Ds and Fs.
  • 30 percent were the victims of teasing or name calling because of their weight, size or physical appearance during the past 12 months.
  • The percentage of Idaho students who reported never or rarely wearing a seat belt while riding in a car with someone else reduced significantly from 2001 to 2015, 13.6 percent to 5.7 percent.
  • The percentage of students ever hit/slapped or hit by a boyfriend or girlfriend has not changed substantially from 2001-2015, 9.8 percent down to 8.9 percent.

Tobacco Use:

  • 30 percent used a form of tobacco or vapor product within the past 30 days. Of students who said they smoke, 39 percent earn grades of Ds and Fs.
  • The percentage of students who reported ever trying cigarettes is down from 54.4 percent in 2001 to 30.9 percent in 2015.

Alcohol and Drug Use:

  • 28 percent drank alcohol within the past 30 days.
  • 22 percent were sold or given illegal drugs on school property within the past 12 months.
  • 17 percent of students reported using marijuana within the past 30 days. Of those, grades earned were fairly even between As, Bs, Cs, Ds and Fs.
  • Almost 17 percent of students said they have ever taken a prescription drug without a doctor’s orders.

Sexual Behavior:

  • 71 percent of students reported having sex education in high school.
  • 37 percent said they have had sexual intercourse. Of these, the division between male and female is nearly even. Of the students who reported having had sex, 65 percent were earning mostly Ds and Fs.

Weight Management and Nutrition:

  • 44 percent of students said they are trying to lose weight.
  • 39 percent of students ate breakfast on all seven of the past seven days.
  • 11.3 percent of students said they eat vegetables three or more times a day.

Physical Activity:

  • 58 percent played on at least one sports team within the past 12 months.

Other Health Related Measures:

  • 80 percent have seen a dentist in the past year.
  • 78 percent reported earning mostly the grades of As and Bs.
  • 77 percent said they plan to continue their education following high school.
  • 71 percent said they have at least one adult they can talk to.
  • 10 percent wear sunscreen.


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