Alexandria City Public Schools has seen a continued decrease in many risk behaviors by students in the past six years, according to the Alexandria Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) released last week.
The YRBS showed sustained decreases in behaviors such as substance use, sexual behavior and aggressive and violent behaviors over the course of the three surveys administered in 2011, 2014 and 2017. The results also indicated a reversal in the ratio of respondents reporting depression and/or suicidal ideas, which had risen in the 2014 results.
Results for ACPS students were better than national averages where comparison results were available in these critical risk areas, falling below national averages in almost all areas.
The results of this survey show that we are continuing to make marked progress in achieving positive outcomes for our youth. The findings are a good indication of the productive steps being taken by ACPS, our community partners and individual community members to support our students and propel genuine change and we will be looking at ways to continue this positive trend,” said Interim Superintendent Lois F. Berlin.
During the past three years, ACPS has introduced Positive Behavior Intervention Supports (PBIS), Restorative Practices, a substance abuse counselor and a health and wellness focus in line with the mission of the ACPS 2020 Strategic Plan. ACPS will continue to focus on the amount of exercise students participate in, as this was an area of the survey where respondents fell below national estimates.
The YRBS is a voluntary, anonymous, self-reported survey administered on a three-year cycle within ACPS to students in grades eight, 10 and 12. The goal of the survey is to obtain information on youth behaviors in six risk areas identified as contributing to the leading causes of death, disability and social problems among youth in the United States.
Risk behaviors analyzed in the survey include physical health; dietary behavior; behaviors that contribute to unintentional or intentional injuries; alcohol and other drug use; tobacco use; and sexual behaviors that contribute to unintended pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections. The YRBS is based on the original Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The survey administration and resulting report were a result of the collaboration among a wide range of academic, government, volunteer and non-governmental organizations working to improve the health and wellness of adolescents in Alexandria. The Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition of Alexandria (SAPCA) and the Alexandria Health Department teamed with ACPS in all phases of the survey administration.
The results from the survey will be used across organizations within the City to target programming and services to best meet the needs of students and families.