Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance (YRBS)

Youth across the nation often engage in behaviors that put them at risk for unwanted health outcomes, including substance abuse and tobacco usage, unsafe sex practices, violence, poor dietary habits, and lack of exercise. The Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) was developed in 1990 by the CDC and has been conducted nationally every other year in most states and major cities. The CDC examines 9 categories of health risk behaviors that are linked to the leading causes of death among adolescents1. Since 1993, the Boston Public Schools (BPS) has been monitoring these behaviors among our high school students through the YRBS:

  • Tobacco use
  • Alcohol and other drug use
  • Dietary behaviors
  • Weight management
  • Physical activity
  • Sexual health
  • Mental health
  • Bullying
  • Unintentional injuries and violence

The BPS conducts the survey every other year (’07, ’09, ’11, ’13, ’15, ’17,etc…) , usually with approximately 1,200 – 1,400 high school students randomly selected from grades 9 through 12.   Boston has achieved weighted data for each survey cycle since 1993.  The YRBS Survey results help policy makers, school administrators, social service workers, and health personnel monitor risk behaviors of high school students that are linked with major causes of mortality and morbidity among youth and adults in the United States. The YRBS results are also used in a variety of venues to develop policy; to plan and improve youth-based health programs; to determine existing health needs in order to develop effective intervention programs; to provide the most recent and updated information for grant submissions; and to improve the development of classroom lessons geared towards reducing health risk behaviors among adolescents.

2013 YRBS Fact Sheets:


Past YRBS Reports:

Where do I find YRBS results?

Please visit the Centers for Disease Control’s website here for access to the YRBS online app for all national, state, and local YRBS data, including Boston high school and middle school YRBS data.  Please visit here  for more information about the YRBS.

For organizations looking to conduct in-depth analysis of YRBS data, please review our YRBS data request documents: YRBS Survey Data Request InfoYRBS Data Request Form.