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School board sees youth behavior survey results

By Staff | Feb 21, 2020

During a meeting last Tuesday at Rugby High School, Rugby Public School District No. 5 Board of Education members saw a presentation displaying select results from a 2019 youth risk behavior survey.

The presentation compared results between school and state averages between 2019, the previous survey in 2017, and data from 2009. Data from Winkelman Consulting, out of Fargo, who conducted the survey was used from 97 participating schools. Schools, community organizations and state agencies use data from the survey to track behavioral changes, develop programs to promote health and prevent risk, among other uses.

An estimated 109 students in grades 9-12 at Rugby High School completed the survey. Of that total, 33 students were identified to be in 11th grade; 27 in 12th grade; 27 in 9th grade; 21 in 10th grade; and one did not indicate grade level. An estimated 64 students identified their gender as female, while 45 identified as male. The maximum margin of error was within 5.7 percent.

School board members learned that in 2019, RHS survey respondents were below the state average in several areas, including percentages of students who reported they carried a weapon on school property (4.6 percent, compared to the state average of 4.9 percent); were in a physical fight on school property (6.4 percent compared to the state average of 7.1 percent); were the victim of teasing/name-calling because someone thought they were gay/lesbian/bisexual (10.1 percent compared to the 11.6 percent state average); felt sad/hopeless (29.4 percent compared to the state average of 30.5 percent); considered attempting suicide (16.7% compared to the state average of 18.8%); attempted suicide (6.5 percent compared to the state average of 13 percent).

Reported tobacco usage in the 2019 survey also saw numbers lower than the state averages, including percentages of students who ever tried cigarette smoking (17.6 percent compared to the state average of 29.3 percent); currently smoked cigarettes at least one day during the 30 days before the survey (3.7 percent compared to the state average of 8.3 percent); current frequent cigarette smoking (0 percent compared to a state average of 2.1 percent); currently used cigarettes, cigars or smokeless tobacco (6.5 percent compared to a 12.2 percent state average).

In reported drug use in the 2019 survey, reported RHS numbers were lower than the state averages in percentages of students who tried marijuana for the first time before they were 13 years of age (0 percent compared to the state average of 5 percent); current marijuana usage (15.7 percent compared to the state average of 27.2 percent); took prescription pain medicine without a prescription (12 percent compared to the state average of 14.5%); ever used methamphetamine (12 percent compared to the state average of 14.4 percent).

Reported sexual activity in the 2019 survey also saw numbers lower than state averages, including the percentages of students who reported they had sexual intercourse (28.1 percent compared to a state average of 38.3 percent); were currently sexually active (25.5 percent compared to a state average of 29.6%); used birth control pills (20.8 percent compared to a state average of 30.5%); and described themselves as gay, lesbian or bisexual (7.7 percent compared to a state average of 9.5 percent).

In some areas, percentages reported from the 109 respondents were higher than state averages.

One such area in where reported numbers were higher than state averages was in bullying. An estimated 22.9 percent of respondents (state average was 19.9 percent) reported being bullied on school property, and 18.3 percent of respondents (compared to a state average of 14.7 percent) reported they had been electronically bullied.

An estimated 15.7 percent of respondents reported they had made a plan about how they would attempt suicide; just 0.4 percentage points above the state average.

Alcohol use was another area in which RHS respondent percentages were higher than state averages in the 2019 survey. An estimated 64.2 percent of respondents indicated they had tried alcohol at least once in their lives (compared to the state average of 56.6 percent). Other percentages included currently drank alcohol-at least one drink on at least one day in the 30 before the survey (36.7 percent compared to the state average of 27.6%); currently binge drinking (16.8 percent compared to a 15.6 percent state average); and percentage of students who think people risk harming themselves if they have five or more drinks of alcohol once or twice each weekend (35.8 percent compared to a state average of 29.3 percent).

Other actions

– The board discussed strategic planning, administrator contracts and 2020-21 staffing.

– The board approved the first reading of the 2020-21 school calendar.

– The board approved the second reading of a policy pertaining to employee background checks.

– The board approved setting an election date for board members. The election will be held June 9, and results will be canvassed on June 15.

– The board approved the consent agenda, which included January meeting minutes, bills and financial statements.

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