Assets in Action: Talk to kids about youth risk survey

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By Bernadette Lauritzen

Happy New Year, let’s get to work.

One goal for 2019 should be having conversations with our young people that might be difficult. One of the things that can help guide is the release of the Youth Risk and Resiliency Survey. The high school and middle school data have been posted to the website. 

The youthrisk.org site is great for middle and high school data that reaches back for more than a decade. The questions are interesting and have a continuity that captures good data year after year. You can compare the results for other counties in New Mexico and dive deep into data. 

You can analyze populations, sample sizes, compare male and female response and more. You can take the side of people that say it is a momentary capture of data on a given day but I like to say, so is your blood work, but you lend that some credibility, right? 

Take it with a grain of salt or ask your students a few questions that may enlighten your day, or lead to some conversation about what is out there.

There are simple things that be tackled like wearing a helmet while cycling, eating breakfast or rarely or never wearing a seatbelt.

 Some of these items I believe are monkey see, monkey do, but you have to let your kids know that they shouldn’t just wear a seatbelt when you are driving, right? You might even throw a don’t text and drive reminder in there too.

Next, we might move on to the issue of bullying. We will probably never solve that issue, based on just definition alone, but have you ever asked your kids what they see? Have you ever asked if they feel bullied and if so, by who? 

Recently, I heard a story of an adult that told a room full of students which ones would never graduate high school. I encouraged them to tell their parents.

Two topics that are pretty serious are the local youth that seriously think about, plan or attempt suicide. If that topic is too big for you to discuss, start with asking young people what they do to relieve their stress. Do they exercise, read, do mindfulness, listen to music or have something at all? It can be an easy approach with a life altering additional benefit.

The scariest topic of all is physical, sexual dating violence, at the high school level. I guess it is a hard data point because there might be other visual factors for other topics, but this isn’t even a talking point for most people. Do some research, find a way in for discussion or at least let your children know they can talk to you about anything. Oh, and an added bonus of not being judgmental is helpful, too.

Bernadette Lauritzen is the Executive Director of Champions of Youth Ambitions (C’YA).