Schools, health department partner for safer youth

| June 19, 2014 | 0 Comments

bullying-stop-signThe Anne Arundel County Department of Health and Anne Arundel County Public Schools have joined together to review results of the recently released Maryland Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) as the two entities continue to discuss programs and initiatives for the upcoming school year. The 2013 YRBS is based on the national school survey conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and it analyzes self-reported health-risk behaviors that contribute to the morbidity and mortality of young adults. The survey looks at tobacco use, alcohol and illicit drug use, injuries and violence, sexual behaviors, dietary behaviors and physical inactivity. Survey: http://phpa.dhmh.maryland.gov/cdp/SitePages/youth-risk-survey.aspx

“I’m pleased that our health department and our school system are working together to help our county’s students improve their overall health and well-being,” said Anne Arundel County Executive Laura Neuman. “Our children’s health and safety are top priorities, and this collaborative effort will enable us to continue to eradicate issues such as substance abuse and violence while helping students cultivate healthy habits.”

In Anne Arundel County, the rates for student tobacco and alcohol use exceed those of the State; however since 2000, the County has seen a steady decline of high school students smoking cigarettes. County rates for students who have experienced school and cyberbullying; been physically hurt or forced to have sex; and who have seriously considered suicide are also higher than the State. The rates of County students who ate fruits and vegetables five or more times daily and who attended physical education classes exceeded those of most other Maryland counties.

“The survey provides a clearer vision of today’s youth—their perceptions and their challenges,” said Acting Anne Arundel County Health Officer Jinlene Chan, M.D., M.P.H. “Open communication about health and educational resources and community support are key in order to help our young people become healthy adults—physically, mentally and emotionally.”

Interim Superintendent Mamie J. Perkins said, “We are very fortunate to have the partnership of the Department of Health in so many aspects of our school operations. The relationship we have developed is far more than just one in which we share information. Rather, it is one in which we are proactive about putting programs in place that increase awareness, foster good decision-making skills, and decrease health risks for our students.”

School counselors, psychologists, social workers and pupil personnel workers continue to collaborate with the Department of Health to support students as they combat issues such as substance abuse and cyberbullying, as well as assist those students impacted by suicide or other tragic circumstances.

The Department of Health addresses the youth health risks through its school health, disease prevention and behavioral health programs. The Adolescent and Family Services Program offers outpatient mental health and addiction services. The Prevention and Education Services Office works to reduce drug and alcohol abuse among young people with community-based strategies. The Healthy Teens and Young Adults Program provides sexual health information. The Learn To Live Program addresses healthy eating, physical activity and tobacco use prevention.

For more information about the YRBS and the Department of Health’s programs for youth, visit www.aahealth.org. For information about the Public Schools’ initiatives, visit www.aacps.org.

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Category: Local News, NEWS, OPINION

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