At-risk behaviors — and a common thread

First — and in descending order — here are some numbers from a statewide survey of Idaho high school students, released Tuesday:

  • 78. The percentage of students who reported receiving mostly A’s and B’s.
  • 37. The percentage of students who have ever had sexual intercourse.
  • 34. The percentage of students who said they spend more than three hours per school day playing video or computer games, or using a computer for non-school work.
  • 28. The percentage of students who have carried a weapon such as a gun, knife or club in the past 30 days.
  • 26. The percentage of students who have been bullied on school property. (A number way out of line with the incomplete and inaccurate numbers schools have reported to the state.)
  • 25. The percentage of students who have used electronic vapor products in the past 30 days.
  • 22. The percentage of students who were offered, sold or given an illegal drug by someone on school property within the past 12 months.
  • 20. The percentage of students who have seriously considered attempting suicide.
  • 16. The percentage of students who have consumed five or more drinks in a period of a couple of hours, over the past 30 days.
  • 14. The percentage of students who have texted, emailed or posted a sexually revealing photo of themselves in the past 30 days.
  • 7. The percentage of students who say they were forced to have sexual intercourse when they did not want to.

What do the numbers mean, when they’re all put together?

Sherri Ybarra
State superintendent Sherri Ybarra

The Idaho Youth Risk Behavior Survey analyzed teen behaviors against academics. In many cases, researchers found significant relationships. In other words, students who struggle in school are also more likely to engage in all of the risky behaviors listed above.

“This data is critical as we focus on the factors that disrupt academic achievement in Idaho’s schools,” state superintendent Sherri Ybarra said in a news release Tuesday.

A footnote on the methodology: The survey was conducted in the spring of 2015. Researchers interviewed 1,760 high school students from 48 high schools.