California State University Northridge Health Education in Schools Discussion

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The Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) monitors six categories of health-related behaviors that contribute to the leading causes of death and disability among youth and adults, including:

  • Behaviors that contribute to unintentional injuries and violence.
  • Sexual behaviors related to unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV infection.
  • Alcohol and other drug use.
  • Tobacco use.
  • Unhealthy dietary behaviors.
  • Inadequate physical activity.

YRBSS Main site: (Links to an external site.)

YRBSS 2019 full report: (Links to an external site.)

At this link you can find topic specific reports as well as trend reports: (Links to an external site.)


Let’s say your school district is considering eliminating health as a required course in the curriculum. As a public health educator you have been asked to prepare a 5 minute statement (about 2 full pages, double spaced) to help advocate for health education in schools. Using data from the YRBSS, consider the following questions or topics in your statement:

  • Introduce yourself and the purpose of your statement
  • Should health education be required in schools? Why?
  • When and how frequently should health education take place?
  • What are some topics that should be included? Why? What does the data say about this issue?

Important: Use the YRBSS data to support your responses. For example, the following is an argument without evidence to support your point:

“Health education in high school should include sex education because the YRBSS data shows that the percent of sexually active teens increases with grade level.”

By adding evidence/data, the statement is more powerful, more accurate, and evidence-based. Such as:

“Health education in high school should include sex education because the YRBSS 2019 data shows that “the prevalence of having ever had sexual intercourse was higher among 10th-grade (33.6%), 11th-grade (46.5%), and 12th-grade (56.7%) than 9th-grade (19.2%) students.”

You may approach this topic advocating for a full range of health topics (such as the 6 topics covered in the YRBSS) or you can advocate for the inclusion of one particular topic in the health curriculum. you are NOT required to have a references page.

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