BALTIMORE, MD (June 5, 2014)—Maryland teens are more physically active now than in 2005, and rates of bullying and alcohol consumption have gone down in the past eight years, announced the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) today. These are just some of the health trends highlighted by the 2013 Maryland Youth Risk Behavior Survey, conducted as part of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS).
"Maryland's anti-bullying laws are some of the toughest in the nation, and the significant reduction in bullying on school property is proof that these policies work," said Governor O'Malley. "Today, all 24 school systems in Maryland have implemented policies prohibiting bullying, harassment and intimidation in schools and at school-sponsored events. Working together as One Maryland, we will continue to work to protect Maryland children in every corner of our State."
The survey monitors health behaviors, such as bullying and harassment, suicide, overweight and obesity, physical activity, nutrition, sexual behavior, injury and violence, tobacco and alcohol use, and other drug use. Results from this report are representative of all public high school students in grades 9–12.
"The results of this survey provide valuable feedback on the behaviors of Maryland’s youth, said Dr. Laura Herrera, DHMH Deputy Secretary for Public Health Services. "These findings will help us develop and refine initiatives targeted at improving their health and well-being.”
Other positive health trends identified in the report included the number of students who:
• Feel that teachers really care—increased
• Felt sad and hopeless—decreased
• Watched three or more hours of TV per day—decreased
• Drank a soda one or more times per day during the past week—decreased
• Carried a weapon—decreased
• Carried a weapon on school property—decreased
• Used any type of tobacco in the last 30 days—decreased
• Smoked cigarettes in the past 30 days—decreased
• Smoked a whole cigarette before age 13—decreased
• Had a drink of alcohol before age 13--decreased
The report also identified some negative health trends among Maryland youth, including increased use of smokeless tobacco and injection drugs, and decreased use of seatbelts.
“The good news in this report is that Maryland’s youth are making some healthier choices,” said Dr. Lillian M. Lowery, the state’s Superintendent of Schools. “But much work remains to be done, especially in reducing health disparities in our most vulnerable youth.”
DHMH and the Maryland State Department of Education have long collaborated to improve the health of Maryland’s youth. Statewide school policies, such as bullying prevention programs and nutrition guidelines for school meals and vending machines, and DHMH initiatives such as Tobacco Quitline services for teens and the Maryland Abstinence Education Coordination Program, are just a few efforts that have generated positive changes in teen health behaviors.
The full report, as well as state and county level data, are available at http://phpa.dhmh.maryland.gov/cdp/SitePages/youth-risk-survey.aspx