Youth Risk Behavior by School Income Level: An Analysis of the Connecticut School Health Survey

Back • Publication Date: February 1st, 2012

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Connecticut Voices for Children's analysis of data from the 2007 Connecticut School Health Survey shows that youth who attend schools with high concentrations of students from low income families are more likely to behave in ways that jeopardize their health and safety. The survey, conducted statewide by the Connecticut Department of Public Health, measures a wide range of behaviors and risk factors, including substance abuse, sexual activity, violence, dietary habits, physical activity, academic achievement, and mental health among Connecticut’s high school students. The results of this analysis show that income is strongly correlated with risk behaviors. Key findings:

  • Students who attend schools with high proportions of students from low-income families were more likely than students in higher income districts to report poor diet, physical inactivity, depression, exposure to violence, poor school performance, and risky sexual behavior.
  • Students who attend schools with high proportions of students from low-income families were less likely than students in higher income districts to report cigarette and alcohol use.

Based on these findings, we recommend that policy makers take into account these differences in risk behaviors when designing and targeting interventions aimed at improving health in adolescence.