Risk behaviors such as skipping breakfast, not getting enough exercise, early sexual initiation, violence, and substance use are consistently linked to poor grades, low test scores, and less educational attainment. In turn, academic success is an excellent indicator for the overall well-being of youth and a primary predictor of adult health outcomes. Schools play an essential role in promoting health and safety and helping young people establish lifelong healthy behaviors.

The Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) was developed by the Division of Adolescent and School Health, a part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The School District of Philadelphia (SDP) administered the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) to 1,217 high school students at 25 randomly selected District schools in the spring of 2019. The overall response rate was 70%. This report uses YRBS data from 2009 through 2019 to show changes in risk behaviors reported by high school students. It provides a general overview of these behaviors, then presents related findings in six sections: mental health, safety and violence, substance use, sexual health, nutrition and physical activity, and physical health. This report also explores how certain students may be more at risk based on their race/ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation.

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