April 18, 2022

Florida’s Decision to Withdraw From Youth Risk Behavior Survey Was ‘Done in Darkness,’ Think Tank Says

Florida Policy Institute urges policymakers to reverse decision and continue collecting this crucial data

ORLANDO, Fla. - Florida Policy Institute (FPI), the state’s KIDS COUNT® partner, today sounded the alarm on the state’s decision to discontinue the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), noting that data gleaned from the survey is vital to policymakers and the general public in assessing the health and well-being of young people in Florida. This data is critical especially now, as ​anxiety has been rising during the pandemic, and suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people.

After reaching out to the CDC, FPI received confirmation on April 14, 2022, via email that “Florida’s Department of Education has elected to discontinue the cooperative agreement supporting the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) and School Health Profiles (Profiles), effective immediately.”  

There are currently 47 states who participate in the survey, which —  according to the CDC — monitors “health behaviors that contribute markedly to the leading causes of death, disability, and social problems among youth and adults in the United States.” This includes: 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; and inadequate physical activity.

Notably, the survey also measures how sub-groups, like LGBTQ youth and young people of color, are faring.

Florida has participated in the YRBS since 1991. As FPI points out, data from the survey are widely used to develop policies that support increasing healthy behaviors and assess progress toward race equity goals.

“The Florida Department of Education’s decision to withdraw from the survey was done in darkness, without any type of opportunity for public input,” said Norín Dollard, senior policy analyst and KIDS COUNT director at FPI. “The YRBS is a long-standing, trusted source of data that lawmakers, advocates, state agencies, and nonprofits have relied on over the years to identify trends in potentially harmful behavior among Florida’s youth. Without the survey, it is unclear how the state intends to analyze things like the prevalence of bullying and mental illness among teens in the state.”

KIDS COUNT is a registered trademark of The Annie E. Casey Foundation in the United States and/or other countries and is used with permission of the Foundation.

FPI, the state’s KIDS COUNT partner, is an independent, nonpartisan and nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing state policies and budgets that improve the economic mobility and quality of life for all Floridians.

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