FAQs about the Youth Risk Behavior Survey
What is the Youth Risk Behavior Survey? The Youth Risk Behavior Survey is an anonymous, voluntary survey developed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The questionnaire asks about risk behaviors linked to the most common causes of death and disability among adolescents (such as drinking and driving) as well as behaviors linked to development of chronic disease in adults (such as smoking). The survey is administered to Arlington Public School 6th-, 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-graders.
The survey focus areas include:
- personal safety
- use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs (ATOD)
- bullying, aggression, and violence
- dating abuse
- mental health, such as stress, suicide, and depression
- sexual health (8th, 10th, and 12th grade only)
- nutrition and physical activity
Why do we conduct the Youth Risk Behavior Survey? The information from the survey will help Arlington schools, County agencies, and the community more broadly respond to the educational and developmental needs of Arlington County youth. The Partnership’s mandate from the County and School Boards is to gather accurate and comprehensive data on the needs, characteristics, and behaviors of our young people. This survey is also an important source of this information.
Are sensitive questions asked on the survey? Some questions may be considered sensitive. They are included in recognition of the importance of these topics and are presented in a straightforward and sensitive manner. If a student is uncomfortable with any question on the survey, he or she does not have to answer that question or may elect to discontinue the survey.
Are the results confidential? Yes. Individually identifying information is not collected from students. All results are presented at a group, or aggregate, level. The survey is not used for any kind of individual diagnostic purpose.
Are individual students tracked over time to see how their behavior changes? No. Surveys are not linked to individual students. Individually identifying information is not collected from students.
Is participation voluntary? Yes. If a student’s class was randomly selected to be a part of the survey sample, then the students’ parents or guardians will receive a letter of notification and an “opt-out” form to complete if they do not want their student to participate. If a parent or guardian elects to opt-out, the student will be assigned an alternative activity.
How was the survey developed? The core of the Youth Risk Behavior Survey is developed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The Partnership adds or deletes particular supplemental questions to the survey based upon past results and feedback from Arlington Public Schools, Arlington County and community stakeholders about any trends or challenges seen to be emerging in Arlington.
Is the survey valid and reliable? Yes. To ensure comparability, questions included are typically the same as those asked in previous surveys. The survey meets scientific standards of reliability and validity. Mechanisms are incorporated to detect invalid responses to survey questions.
Do students answer questions truthfully? Yes. Research has shown that this type of data can be gathered as reliably from adolescents as from adults. Youth are assured that the survey is anonymous and that their responses are not linked to them. Several internal reliability checks help identify falsified answers. Those surveys are removed from the analysis.
Will the survey be administered in any foreign languages? Yes. The survey is currently translated into Spanish.
Why do you ask questions related to sexual health? There are questions that measure the prevalence of sexual activity among survey respondents. These questions will only be asked of 8th-, 10th-, and 12th- graders. By Virginia state law, sixth graders may not be asked about sexual health. This information will provide baseline and continuing information about the sexual health of our youth and will be used to determine the effectiveness of our education and communication. The survey allows the examination of the relationships between sexual behavior and substance use, mental health, depression, gang membership, overall risk and protective factors. AIDS, HIV infection, and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are major health problems. Teen pregnancy can have significant consequences for individuals, families, and our community, as a whole. The only way to determine if youth are at risk for these outcomes is to ask questions about their behavior.
How is the survey administered? The survey is administered in a classroom setting. It takes one class period. The survey is given to the students; the students read the instructions and then complete the survey. Spring 2017 will be the first year that the survey will be administered online. No personal or identifying information is collected from the students.
- 8th-12th grade survey (Eng)
- 8th-12th grade survey (Esp)
- 6th grade survey (Eng)
- 6th grade survey (Esp)