On September 27, the CWRU Prevention Research Center for Healthy Neighborhoods (PRCHN) partnered with the Schubert Center for the conversation, “Risky Business in the Move to High School: Protective Effects of Parents and Personal Assets.” PRCHN Associate Director Erika Trapl, PhD, and Community Initiatives Manager Jean Frank, MPH, presented an analysis of the 2010-2011 Cuyahoga County Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS). The YRBS is a bi-annual nationwide survey of middle school and high school students about drug and alcohol use, sexual intercourse, and parental monitoring, that allows for locality-specific modifications. Rather than focusing simply on prevalence of specific behavior changes over time, the PRCHN team focuses on the protective factors of personal assets and parental monitoring in reducing risk behaviors.
The data from the 2010-2011 YRBS mark the transition from 8th to 9th grade as a particularly vulnerable period for increased risk behaviors, such as alcohol use, among students. Their analyses suggest that a student’s perceived high parental monitoring coupled with strong personal assets (such as extra-curricular engagement) provide the most significant protection against risky behaviors. Thus, fostering good parent-child communication may be a key to raising students’ awareness of their parents’ monitoring.
To understand these findings from a local perspective, Shaker Heights High School Principal Michael Griffith and Shaker Heights Health Director and CWRU Master of Public Health program Director Scott Frank, MD, joined the discussion as community respondents. They discussed the city and school district’s experiences moving from punitive-only approaches to address risk behavior to engaging parents, coaches, school social workers and other adults to assist youth in preventing risky behaviors.