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AASU Releases 2001 Youth Risk Behavior Report

Savannah, GA–Armstrong Atlantic State University and the Chatham/Effingham Tobacco Use Prevention Coalition announced the results of the 2001 Chatham County/Savannah Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Report at a news conference on February 15. The survey was given to ninth grade students enrolled in health and physical education classes in seven public and four private schools in Savannah. A total of 742 students responded.

The following is a summary of results from the report:

  • 13.2% of the sample rarely or never use seat belts while 29% reported riding in a vehicle driven by someone who had been drinking.
  • While only 4.3% of the sample report rarely or never wearing a helmet while riding a motor cycle, 71.8% report rarely or never wearing a helmet while riding a bicycle.
  • Over 16% of the sample had carried a weapon in the past 30 days with 35.6% indicating that they had been in a physical fight.
  • Slightly over 16% of the sample reported that they had seriously considered suicide during the preceding 12 months. Of the 9.4% of the respondents that had actually attempted suicide, 27% indicated that the suicide attempt resulted in treatment by a doctor or nurse.
  • 51.3% had tried cigarette smoking. 36.2% of those who reported smoking indicated that they smoked their first cigarette before they were 15 years old. 62% of the students who said they had purchased their own cigarettes claimed that they were not asked to show proof of age.
  • 61% of the sample admitted to previous alcohol consumption. Of those who reported alcohol consumption, 34% had done so in the last 30 days. 55% of those who had experimented with alcohol did so before they were 15 years old.
  • 27% of the sample had used marijuana, 4.1% admitted to having used cocaine and 12.4% responded that they had sniffed glue or other substances.
  • 35.9% of the sample stated that they had had sexual intercourse. 99.6% of the students who stated that they had been sexually active had their initial sexual episode prior to their 16th birthday.
  • 39.8% of the sample were trying to lose weight.
  • 36%-45% of the sample (depending on the specific survey item) gave responses that indicate poor eating and exercise behaviors.

The youth risk behavior surveillance "provides useful data to local health and education officials in an effort to improve policies and programs for youths," said Marilyn Buck, assistant dean of AASU's College of Health Professions. The results are released to "help the community learn how to prevent children from engaging in behaviors that place them at risk."

The results of this study generated recommendations of interventions designed with the following health issues in mind: dangerous and/or illegal activities taking place on the school grounds, safety issues such as seat belt use, helmet use and drinking while impaired or with an impaired driver, suicide prevention, substance abuse–tobacco, alcohol, other drugs, sexual practices, eating and weight control habits, and low involvement in physical activity.

The study also recommended that programs to change behavior be tailored to specific issues identified by a gender or racial sub-group and started at a much younger age as these respondents noted that the risky behaviors in which they presently engage were started when they were much younger.


February 18, 2002


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