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NYS OASAS, NYSED announce opportunity for school districts to participate in student health surveys

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Tue, Jun 29th 2021 04:15 pm

Youth development survey engages students in grades 7-12 to assess risks of underage drinking, substance use, problem gambling

√ Youth risk behavior survey measures 9th-12th grade students’ strengths and risks related to unintentional injuries and violence, alcohol, tobacco and drug use & dietary behaviors, other health topics

√ Surveys will help school districts and local communities target specific health and prevention needs of their student populations

The New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS) and New York State Education Department (NYSED) announced the opportunity for school districts across New York to participate in the youth development survey (YDS) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention youth risk behavior survey (YRBS). The YDS will assess substance-related risk and protective factors of students in grades 7-12 regarding underage drinking, substance use and problem gambling. The YRBS measures high school students’ strengths and risks related to unintentional injuries and violence, alcohol, tobacco and other drug use, dietary behaviors, physical activity, sexual behaviors, obesity and weight control and other health topics.

“We have a responsibility to keep our kids safe, and New York is focused on engaging with young people to assess substance-related health risks,” Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul said. “The youth development survey directly engages students and will help schools and communities target their services and prevention methods to combat these risks.”

OASAS and NYSED monitor student risk factors that impact health, safety and academic success through voluntary student surveys. This information allows both agencies to identify student health and prevention needs and develop resources to help reduce and prevent future and current behavioral health issues.

OASAS will work with International Survey Associates, a national youth survey organization, to conduct the survey in November. ISA will process and analyze the results and provide district-specific estimates of substance use and risk, as well as potential protective factors to address these risks. The reports are designed to enable districts to determine how their students compare to the surrounding area, as well as the rest of the state.

NYSED contracts with its technical assistance center, the NYS Center for School Health (NYSCSH), to administer the YRBS to 30 high schools randomly selected by the CDC. The schools selected will be notified in August. The YRBS measures high school students’ strengths and risks related to unintentional injuries and violence, alcohol, tobacco and other drug use, dietary behaviors, physical activity, sexual behaviors, obesity and weight control, and other health topics. Only one to four classes in the selected high schools take the survey, which provides both New York state and national YRBS trend data.

District participation is voluntary and free of charge, and OASAS and NYSED will be reaching out directly to superintendents to solicit participation in the survey.

A press release said, “Districts are strongly encouraged to take advantage of the opportunity to assess the behaviors of New York’s youth in order to implement policies geared toward improving the health of students and reducing the chances that they will engage in risky behavior. In addition, the youth population data collected through the surveys will enable the agencies to better evaluate and monitor state-funded local community and school-based prevention efforts.”

OASAS Commissioner Arlene González-Sánchez said, “These surveys provide an excellent opportunity to assess the most critical needs of children in school districts across New York state, and will allow us to target our services where they are needed most. I urge all districts to participate and help us determine the risks and challenges they are facing, and the best ways to address these issues.”

Board of Regents Chancellor Lester W. Young Jr. said, “A comprehensive and coordinated approach with students, families, schools and communities is so important in helping our youth with decision-making. If information from these surveys can help even one student, it’s worth it for districts to take part.”

State Education Commissioner Betty A. Rosa said, “This year has seen increased stress, anxiety and trauma for our students and families and now, more than ever, we must help our children avoid harmful behaviors any way we can. I encourage districts to participate in these important surveys to ensure they receive the proper resources to support students in making good choices.”

New Yorkers struggling with an addiction, or whose loved ones are struggling, can find help and hope by calling the state’s toll-free, 24-hour, seven-day-a-week HOPEline at 1-877-8-HOPENY (1-877-846-7369) or by texting HOPENY (Short Code 467369). Available addiction treatment including crisis/detox, inpatient, residential, or outpatient care can be found using the NYS OASAS treatment availability dashboard at FindAddictionTreatment.ny.gov or through the NYS OASAS website.

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