In mid October, a group of Masco high school aged teens gathered in the high school library with members of Tri-Town Council’s (TTC) Coalition for a Data Dive -- a block of time set aside to “dive in” and review the results from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) administered in November of 2021. In partnership and collaboration with Masconomet School District and TTC, the YRBS is administered biennially to both middle and high school youth and collects information about protective factors, risk behaviors, mental health and much more. Considering the principle of “nothing about us without us,” who better to review the data about Masco youth than Masco youth themselves?
Meaningful youth involvement in the YRBS data effort is a priority, with the 2018-19 data cycle being the first where Masco youth were deeply involved in YRBS data review and communication. Building on that effort, youth will again be involved from the review of data through the communication of important results to the public at the Community Conversation planned for January 2023.
The amount of data generated by the YRBS is extensive. At the data dive, to help youth navigate the various YRBS data, TTC shared discrete sets of charts and graphs in the areas of Substance Use, Mental Health, Physical & Sexual Health & Well-Being, Use of Technology & Social Media, Bullying & Teasing, and Protective factors. Teens were given a chance to write down some of the results they expected to find in each area before reviewing the data. Then they were provided with a list of guiding questions and to help them choose 2-3 topics of most interest to them. Working in small groups, the youth pinpointed findings that were interesting, important or surprising. After their review, they were invited to make updates to their expected findings, based on what they learned. In several instances, they found that their perceptions differed from the actual data results. This was not surprising; one of the biggest challenges in youth prevention work is pushing back upon the perception that “everyone” is participating in various risky behaviors (particularly when it comes to substance use). Knowing the facts (that MOST kids AREN’T using substances) is a key protective factor for youth, helping guide them in healthy decision-making!
SO what’s next? From here, a group of Masco youth will continue to meet throughout the fall to discuss and plan the Community Conversation. Using some of the key data points they identified at the data dive, they will design and guide the conversation among peers and adults. With TTC support, the teens involved will meet regularly and will receive training in presentation and public speaking skills as they develop the presentation and event program.
If you’d like to learn more about the 2021 Masco YRBS Results, you can find them on the Coalition program tab on TTC’s website. Please join us for the Community Conversation in January. More information and details will be coming soon. Questions about the data? Reach out to Coalition Coordinator Nicole Gregoire-Allis at email@example.com.