For Release: October 3, 2006
2005 Student Health Survey: Less Smoking and Drinking, More Seatbelt Use
Fewer New Jersey high school students say that they smoke, drink alcohol and carry weapons, and more of them say they always wear a seat belt, according to the results of the 2005 Student Health Survey released today by acting Commissioner of Education Lucille E. Davy.
The survey was completed by 1,495 students at 29 public high schools in the spring of last year. The high schools were randomly selected and had to agree to participate, and student participation was also voluntary and required parental consent.
Students answered questions about their health-related behavior in six areas that are closely related to preventable illness and injury among young people: unintentional injuries (safety) and violence; the use of tobacco; the use of alcohol and drugs; sexual behavior; dietary behavior; and physical activity.
The 2005 overall participation rate was sufficient to obtain a weighted sample representative of all regular public school students in grades 9 through 12 in the state. This meant that the New Jersey information could be included in the federal Centers for Disease Control national report.
It also permitted comparisons between the 2005 results and answers students gave in the 2001 and 1995 surveys, which were the two other recent years in which a representative sample was obtained in New Jersey.
“We’re very pleased to see that that young people are reporting less risky behavior in many of the areas covered by the survey,” acting Commissioner Davy said. “The decrease in smoking and drinking and the increase in seatbelt use tell us that the messages being sent about these matters seem to be getting through.”
Key findings in the survey include:
For the first time in the spring of 2005, DOE also administered a shorter version of the Student Health Survey to seventh- and eight-grade students. The middle school survey covered similar topics, excluding sexual behavior. Thirty middle schools out of the 36 selected in the sample agreed to participate, and 1,409 students out of a possible 2,156 completed the survey.
Since these participation rates did not meet the minimum standards set by the CDC, the data could not be weighted to reflect the statewide population and could not be included in the national survey. In addition, since this is the first time the survey was administered, no historic comparisons can be made.
Key findings in the middle school survey include:
The Student Health Survey is a collaborative effort with the Department of Health and Senior Services (which contributes to the funding of the project) and the Department of Law and Public Safety.
DOE provides a summary brochure about the survey to all middle schools and high schools so that survey findings can be disseminated widely among both school and community members that play a role in promoting healthy adolescent development. DOE and other state government departments and agencies also use the survey in the development of policies and programs that address adolescent behavior.
Local school districts and community organizations also use the findings to:
The summary report, the detailed report (including the questionnaire and an appendix) and the data tables can be found online here: http://www.nj.gov/njded/students/yrbs/