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Data/Research: Student Health

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Back to Student Health


This EWA tip sheet has a wealth of data sources that are useful when covering adolescents, including several guidelines for finding health and wellness data.


This World Health Organization fact sheet provides a primer and key data on youth violence, including bullying, sexual and physical assault, and homicide.

The National Center for Education Statistics breaks down bullying statistics by age and other demographics, including race and sex.

This CDC brief shows trends in youth suicide and homicide over almost two decades. This report in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that the suicide rate reached its highest levels in nearly 20 years in 2019.

Drug Use

This annual “Monitoring the Future” survey from the National Institutes of Health shows trends in drug, alcohol and cigarette use among middle and high schoolers.

This CDC overview examines an outbreak of a lung injury associated with vaping (EVALI).

This CDC overview offers data on HIV among young people.

Mental Health

Penn State’s Center for Collegiate Mental Health puts out an annual report about college students receiving mental health services from more than 150 college and university counseling centers.

This Prevention Institute fact sheet shows the link between violence and mental health.

This EWA blog post offers tips for writing nuanced stories about mental health among teenagers.

Higher Risks for Black and Brown Students

Increased risk of chronic health conditions, high teen birth rates and community violence, all of which disproportionately affect students of color, are obstacles that can keep them out of the classroom. And missing classroom time affects academic progress. Students who are absent 15 or more days each year are “at serious risk of falling behind in school,” according to the U.S. Department of Education. The further behind a student falls, the higher the risk of dropping out.

African Americans have the highest prevalence of asthma among all racial and ethnic groups. About 13 percent of African American children have asthma, compared with 7 percent of white children, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.

Nearly 12 percent of Black students have diabetes, compared with 7.5 percent of white students.

The Black teen birth rate is more than 14 percentage points higher than that of white teens.

Sexually transmitted disease (STD) rates among Black teens and young adults are higher than among white teens.

60 percent of new HIV infections in youth are among African American teens.

According to CDC statistics, non-Hispanic Black males had the highest homicide rate — 35 percent in 2017 — among males ages 19 or younger. It is the leading cause of death for this group.

Sex Education and Teen Sexual Health

Most, but not all, states require sex education in public schools, according to a report by the National Conference of State Legislatures. Reporters can look to their state regulations and guidelines on sex education and to school districts to see how states implement sex education curriculum.

What students actually learn in sex education classes varies widely by state. Are there connections between students’ access to comprehensive sex education and responsible sexual behavior? Reporters can also analyze whether teens and young adults have access to birth control and other counseling services via community clinics.

When students participate in high-quality, comprehensive sex education programs, studies show that they are less likely to undertake risky sexual behaviors and that teen pregnancies decline.

Important facts about the value of quality sex education:

The teen birth rate in the U.S. has declined to its lowest level since government officials began to track it in the 1940s, but is still the highest among industrialized nations. The rates vary by race. CDC statistics for 2017 show the birth rate among white teenagers at 13%, but double that for Black and Hispanic teenagers.

Some sexually transmitted diseases, including syphilis, are on the rise. The CDC estimates that young people ages 15-24 account for half of all new STDs and that one in four sexually active females has an STD.

Of new HIV infections, one in four is among young people ages 13 to 24.