Fewer students are smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol, according to a recent survey of kids in our state. At the same time, a large number of students continue to seriously consider suicide -- the past year's figures are about the same as over the last 10 years.
The Healthy Youth Survey is taken every two years by students in grades 6, 8, 10, and 12 in more than 1,000 public schools in Washington.
More than 200,000 youth took part in the survey in October 2012 by answering a wide variety of questions about their health and health behaviors. All responses were voluntary and anonymous.
- 2,092 of 6th grade students
- 3,115 of 8th grade students
- 4,386 of 10th grade students
- 3,524 of 12th grade students
Survey results show that cigarette smoking is down in all grades, and the numbers in King County were below the statewide statistics.
Current Cigarette Smoking*
King County Statewide 6th Less than 1% 1% 8th 4% 5% 10th 8% 10% 12th 14% 16%
*Percent of students who report smoking cigarettes in the past 30 days.
- The number of 10th grader smoking in the last 30 days went down from nearly 13 percent in 2010 and from 25 percent in 1999.
- Statewide, about 50,000 youth smoke – and 40 start smoking every day. Youth also use other tobacco products such as cigars or chew.
- Nearly as many 10th graders smoked tobacco from a hookah pipe as from a cigarette, and about 7 percent said that they smoked a cigar in the last month.
Percentage of Washington 10th and 12th graders who smoke marijuana is nearly double the percentage of cigarette smokers.
Also, the number of secondary school students who believe using marijuana is risky dropped to the lowest level since the state started collecting data.
Current Marijuana Use
(Percent of students who report smoking marijuana in the past 30 days.)
King County Statewide 6th less than 1% 1% 8th 7% 9% 10th 17% 19% 12th 27% 27%
Preventing underage drinking has been a statewide priority for the last decade, according to the State Health Department. With more than 115,000 youth who currently drink, the number is down by nearly 11,000 fewer students compared to 2010.
Current Alcohol Use*
King County Statewide 6th Less than 3% 3% 8th 10% 12% 10th 20% 23% 12th 37% 36%
*Percent of students who report having drunk a glass, can or bottle of alcohol in the past 30 days.
King County Statewide 6th -- -- 8th 24% 26% 10th 30% 31% 12th 28.4% 30%
*Percent of students who report experiencing depressive feelings in the past year.
Contemplation of Suicide*
King County Statewide 6th -- -- 8th 16% 17% 10th 18% 19% 12th 16% 17%
*Percent of students who report having seriously considered suicide in the past year.
According to the survey, about 8 percent of 8th and 10th graders attempted suicide in the past year. More than 100,000 youth, ages 12-17, seriously considered suicide – about one in every six students.
At the same time, students across all grades reported an increase in their “commitment to school,” and fewer are skipping school.
Lifetime Sexual Activity*
King County Statewide 6th -- -- 8th 10% 15% 10th 30% 32% 12th 50% 55%
*Percent of students who report ever having sexual intercourse in their lifetime.
- About 7 percent of 10th graders and 16 percent of 12th graders reported they had four or more sexual partners.
- About 6 percent of 10th graders and 5 percent of 12th graders reported having sex for the first time at age 12 or younger.
"The physical and emotional health of our youth is crucial to their success in school, in work, in personal relationships, and in their communities,” said Department of Social and Health Services Secretary Kevin W. Quigley. “It’s good to celebrate that fewer teens are using alcohol and tobacco, but it’s clear many teens need more support from the adults in their lives and from friends to make healthy choices and cope with challenges.”