Results from New Hampshire’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey released

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CONCORD, NH (March 10, 2023)  Results from the 2021 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) have been released, showing both encouraging and concerning trends among New Hampshire teens and their behaviors.

Although vaping, alcohol and marijuana use among Granite State youth has decreased, according to the survey results, there are other trends that are reportedly on the rise, including feelings of hopelessness, dating violence and cyber bullying.

“This data is increasingly important to assess tendencies in risk behaviors among high school youth, and it enables schools and communities to understand those risks, raise awareness, prioritize issues and address the needs,” said Frank Edelblut, education commissioner. “This survey also tells us where New Hampshire should be targeting more support and education. An important take-away for all of us is to find a moment to affirm and encourage youth every opportunity we can.”

The YRBS is part of a nationwide effort to learn more about the health-related behaviors that contribute to the leading causes of death and poor health among youth and adults. All surveys are anonymous and voluntary, and focus on behaviors such as unintentional injuries, sexual behaviors, alcohol and other drug use, tobacco use, mental health, violence, dietary behaviors, physical activity and more. Please note, the most recent data released was collected two years ago, and the newest 2023 YRBS is now being administered.

“It is critical that parents, schools and community organizations work to make effective programs and services that support adolescent growth and development more easily available for families and youth,” said Tricia Tilley, Director of the DHHS Division of Public Health Services. “The survey results are concerning in that girls, especially, reported that their mental wellbeing has been in distress. The good news is that youth in New Hampshire are making better decisions about their health, including decreases in students using alcohol, tobacco and vaping.”

Some positive changes that were reported in New Hampshire include:

  • In 2021, 16.2% of students reported that they are currently vaping or using an electronic vapor product, which is down substantially from 33.8% in 2019.
  • In 2021, 21.3% of students said they drink alcohol compared to 26.8% in 2019. Similarly, 11.2% of students said they were binge drinking in 2021 compared to 14.4% in 2019.
  • The percentage of students reported having sexual intercourse was 29.3% in 2021, which is a noticeable decline compared to 39.8% in 2019. Similarly, 21.3% of students reported that they were sexually active in 2021 compared to 29.7% in 2019.

Some concerning changes that were reported in New Hampshire include:

  • More than 44% of students reported feeling sad or hopeless about themselves in 2021, which is a substantial increase compared to 34% in 2019.
  • Students who seriously considered suicide increased sharply in 2021, with 25% of high school students expressing suicide ideation compared to 18% in 2019.
  • In 2021, 8.8% of students reported that they had been physically forced to have sexual intercourse compared to 6.7% in 2019. Reports of sexual violence were 11.4% in 2021 compared to 10.1% in 2019.
  • In 2021, 9.6% of students reported that they felt unsafe at school or on their way to school compared to 6.9% in 2019. Similarly, 21.8% of students reported that they were cyberbullied in 2021 compared to 20.1% in 2019.

Since 1993, the New Hampshire YRBS has been a partnership between local schools, the New Hampshire Department of Education and the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services. It is distributed every other year to high school students. The survey, by law, permits students and families to opt out of participation, and has received constructive criticism from Edelblut for its focus on harmful behaviors while failing to understand factors that contribute to student resiliency.

The New Hampshire YRBS results are available here, with regional results highlighted here. Resources for parents and students concerning some of these topics are available here:

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