New CDC Survey Reveals Areas of Concern
> 6/9/2006 9:37:32 AM

The Center for Disease Control released the results from their Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) yesterday, and while many of the results show improvement over past years, others have researchers scratching their heads. As noted in their press release, two big areas of improvement were in seat belt usage and current alcohol usage.

What has some looking for more answers are the results regarding Hispanic students. As the Houston Chronicle reports:

Hispanic high school students use drugs and attempt suicide at far higher rates than their white and black classmates, says a new federal survey that has the experts somewhat perplexed.

More than 11 percent of Latino students and 15 percent of Latino girls said they attempted suicide, according to the report issued Thursday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The rates for white and black students were about 7.5 percent.

Latinos also reported much higher rates of using cocaine, heroin, ecstasy and methamphetamines.

Doctors and researchers working with the survey are confused by the results of Latino students, who reported rises in virtually every area of risk behavior assessed by the survey. The San Jose Mercury News provided one explanation, quoting Mario Ozuna-Sanchez, manager of intervention services for the Mexican American Community Service Agency in San Jose as saying: "There's not only a lack of services in general, there's a lack of services in English and Spanish, services targeted toward parents. Everyone knows the problem, but few people are addressing it."

In their press release, the CDC's adolescent and school health division director Howell Wechsler, Ed.D, MPH, said that he found the survey's results encouraging because it showed that persistent work with teens could pay off (specifically in the area of alcohol and seat belts). If that is the case, then this year's survey indicates that more peristence and direct attention is necessary for Hispanic youths.

In the recent upsurge in interest regarding immigration issues, many Hispanics youths, who themselves are American citizens are being swept up in racism and ill-advised nationalism. No matter where you fall on the issues, the health of American citizens should be something that everyone can agree on. With upwards of 10 and 15% of Hispanic youths reporting attempted suicide, this survey should serve as a clear call to action .

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