Five Things to Know from the 2018-2019 Youth Survey

By FCPS & Fairfax County Government
October 02, 2019

Vaping, depression and declining physical activity are among the issues affecting our kids according to the 2018-19 Fairfax County Youth Survey. Fortunately, the survey also identifies ways that you can actively help teens succeed and avoid/reduce risk behaviors.

Since 2001, the Board of Supervisors and the School Board have co-sponsored the Youth Survey, which helps to monitor behavior trends and changes among our youth. This provides crucial information to help prioritize the focus for prevention efforts throughout the community. It is an anonymous and voluntary survey given each year to students in grades 8, 10 and 12 (students in grade 6 take a modified, shorter survey). A total of 47,539 students, representing 84% of enrolled students, participated in the 2018-19 Youth Survey.

Here are five top takeaways:

  1. Vaping is Common, but Regular Cigarette Smoking is Decreasing: One in five students (19.8%) reported vaping within a 30-day period, while only 1.8% reported smoking cigarettes. One-quarter of 12th graders vaped nicotine, one-seventh vaped marijuana, and approximately one-eighth vaped flavoring only.
  2. Depressive Symptom Rates Continue to Inch Up: Depressive symptoms (28.3%) for 8th, 10th and 12th grade students has increased since last year (27.3%), which is higher than the rate in 2016. Students in 6th grade reported depressive symptoms (24.2%) at the highest rate since 2011.
  3. Physical Activity Levels are Down: The percentage of students (38.4%) getting at least one hour of physical activity per day on five or more days is the lowest since 2010, when 42.6% did so. Overall, 63.9% of 8th, 10th and 12th grade students get more than three hours of screen time per day (49% for 6th graders).
  4. Marijuana Use Remains at Relatively Low Levels: Almost one in ten students (9.7%) in 8th, 10th and 12th grades reported using marijuana in the past 30 days, compared to 9.5% last year. This is well below the national rate of 14.6%. 
  5. Cyberbullying Rates Continue to Drop: Reported rates of being a victim of cyberbullying (8.2%), as well as being an aggressor (3.9%), continued to decrease.

The most important finding in each year’s Youth Survey is that protective factors, such as having parents available for help and engaging in community service, make a real difference and help teens succeed and flourish. Learn more about these “factors that matter” - and the easy ways in which you can help teens attain them - in the Three to Succeed section of the Youth Survey website, where you can find lots more information on the survey and results. 

Healthy Minds is for parents, educators, and community-based providers who are interested in supporting student mental health and wellness. It represents a collaboration between FCPS’ Office of Intervention and Prevention Services and the Fairfax County Government. SUBSCRIBE to Healthy Minds and receive a monthly digest of our most recent articles.