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ABSTRACT

Since 1991, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has administered the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) biennially to representative samples of high school students. YRBS results indicate that health-risk behaviors often developed during middle school years. To date, few state and local education agencies have administered the YRBS-Middle School. This study measured prevalence of health-risk behaviors among middle school students in a large, majority-minority school district (n=1,783). Results indicated that young adolescents (ages 11–14) are engaging in multiple health-risk behaviors. For example, 24.4% seriously considered committing suicide in the previous year, 53.3% had been in a physical fight, 50.2% ever drank alcohol, 17.9% ever used marijuana, and 13.4% had already had sex. Such behaviors potentially could lead to serious consequences related to their educational achievement and overall health status. Health-related policy and program applications are discussed.