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For Immediate Release: March 27, 2006
Contact: Mary Stadick Smith - (605) 773-7228

Survey assesses students’ health risk behaviors

Results of the 2005 South Dakota Youth Risk Behavior Survey were presented to the Board of Education today. Conducted every two years, the survey assesses high school students’ participation in behaviors considered a risk to their health. It focuses on six priority health risk behavior areas.

“South Dakota is one of only a handful of states that have been able to secure this kind of long-term data,” said Dr. Rick Melmer, secretary of the South Dakota Department of Education. “It’s a study that educators and parents should review closely.”

Rather than comparing this year’s results to the 2003 survey, school leaders, parents and students are encouraged to focus on specific responses, especially those that they have the ability to impact or change. Highlights from each of the six areas are noted below.

•Behaviors that Result in Intentional and Unintentional Injuries and Violence

Thirty-two percent indicated that, during the past 30 days, they rode in a car driven by someone who had been drinking alcohol.

•Tobacco Use

Fifteen percent indicated that they believe smokeless tobacco is safer than cigarettes.

•Alcohol and Other Drug Use

Seventy-seven percent have had at least one drink of alcohol during their life, while 7 percent reported using methamphetamines at least once during their life.

•Sexual Behaviors that Result in HIV Infection, Other Sexually Transmitted Diseases, and Unintended Pregnancy

Forty-four percent reported having had sexual intercourse.

•Dietary Behaviors

Seventeen percent indicated that they ate five or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day during the past week.

•Physical Activity

Sixty-two percent reported that they participated in 20 minutes of physical activity that made them sweat in three of the past seven days. Twenty-four percent indicated that they watched television for three or more hours per day on an average school day.

The South Dakota Youth Risk Behavior Survey is a joint project of the South Dakota Departments of Education, Human Services and Health. Surveys are distributed to a random sample of high schools across the state. They are completed by students in grades 9-12. Participation in the survey is voluntary, and parents are given the opportunity to exclude their children from the process.


Printed versions of the survey can be ordered online, or by calling (605) 773-3261.

Click here to view the survey.