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Tough to crow about student survey

Nevada Appeal Staff Reports

There isn’t much good to say about a survey that finds the number o Nevada’s middle and high school students who have said they tried suicide over the previous year dropped by 1.9 percent from 10.7 to 8.8 percent.

Or that only 18.1 percent of the state’s high school students say they’ve contemplated suicide, down from just short of a fifth.

It’s nice the numbers are dropping, but results are alarming.

This information was gathered from the biennial Nevada Youth Risk Behavior Study, which asks the state’s high and middle school students what they’ve done over the previous year.

The survey is anonymous, and state education officials hope this means an honest snapshot of behavior in our schools.

Students took the latest survey last spring. They were asked questions like whether they’ve tried to commit suicide, thought about it, been offered illegal drugs on campus, been able to buy tobacco products without identification or had sex willingly or unwillingly.

While the percentage of high school students who have had sex dropped from 49.1 to 46.4 percent, the students who said they’ve been forced to have sex rose from 9.2 percent in 2001 to 11 percent in 2002.

Are a tenth of Nevada high school students raped? Are nearly a fifth contemplating suicide? Are one in 10 actually attempting suicide? These figures are frightening taken at face value.

Educators use the survey to hone their message to children in the schools. We should make sure our message to children in the homes is one of support and understanding.

No survey can replace the value of parents communicating with their children.