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May 9, 2002

SDE Releases Survey of New Mexico High School Behavior

(Santa Fe, NM)-The New Mexico State Department of Education's (SDE) School Health Unit today released the results of the "2001 New Mexico Youth Risk & Resiliency Survey." The survey details factors that enable and prevent success among New Mexico's high school students. Fifty percent of students from responding districts said that if offered a cigarette by a best friend, they would "definitely not" smoke it. Ninety-three percent reported that they did not skip school due to feeling unsafe.

Sixty-two of New Mexico's 89 school districts volunteered to participate in the survey, which was conducted in the fall of 2001. Roughly 9,000 students were surveyed.

"On balance, the positive behaviors of our youth are impressive. Consider that 84 percent of students said that someone in their home cared very much about their schoolwork, and 82 percent asserted that their parents would find drinking alcohol 'very wrong.' But the report does present information that results in paradoxes. While 75 percent said they try to understand what other people think and feel, 66 percent said that a boyfriend or girlfriend physically hurt them on purpose," said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Michael J. Davis.

The 2001 Survey differs from earlier reports by including measurements of resiliency behaviors (also called "assets" or "positive factors"), as well as risk behaviors. The SDE, State Department of Health, community-based organizations, school districts and youth advocates collaborated over two years to produce the survey and report, including measuring positive factors.

State Superintendent Davis said, "This much comprehensive information is invaluable to the work of the Department of Education. The profiles revealed in this survey clarify many of our assumptions, good and bad, and encourage us in the progress our schools are making. While the picture is brighter than we sometimes fear, we must reduce the risks our students face and help them make healthy decisions."

Students were asked about risk behaviors including injuries, use of tobacco, alcohol and illegal drugs and dietary and sexual behavior. Seventy-one percent stated that they had not smoked in the previous 30 days, an improvement from 1999 when 62 percent made that response. Half reported that they had had a drink on at least one day in the previous 30 days. 'Bingeing,' defined as consuming five drinks within two hours, declined from 44 percent in 1999 to 30.2% in 2001. Fifty percent said they had not engaged in sexual activities.

For more information, contact Dean Hopper, the SDE's HIV Education/Youth Risk Resiliency Survey coordinator, at 505-827-1804 or