The YRBS was developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to monitor priority health risk behaviors that contribute to the leading causes of death, disease, injury, and social problems among youth. The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (Department) — in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) — conducts the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) in randomly selected public high schools in every odd-numbered years. The Massachusetts YRBS (MYRBS) focuses on the major risk behaviors that threaten the health and safety of young people. This anonymous survey includes questions about tobacco use, alcohol and other drug use, sexual behaviors that might lead to unintended pregnancy or sexually transmitted disease, dietary behaviors, physical activity, and behaviors associated with intentional or unintentional injuries. Since 2007, the MYRBS has been conducted jointly with the Massachusetts Youth Health Survey (MYHS) developed by DPH.
News: Postponement of 2021 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) and Youth Health Survey (YHS) to Fall 2021
Due to the uncertainty of in-school instruction and to alleviate the burden on schools, DESE and DPH have postponed the administration of the 2021 YRBS and YHS surveys from Spring 2021 to Fall 2021.
We ask for your help in making the Fall 2021 YRBS and YHS administration successful by engaging your schools to participate next fall. Middle schools and high schools selected to participate will be notified this spring. We look forward to working with schools in Fall 2021 to administer these important surveys. Please contact OSFS.SchoolBasedSurveys@mass.gov with any questions.
News: Launch of Youth Risk Behavior Data Collection Community of Practice
The Community of Practice (CoP) will convene in April and May 2021 and aims to build connections and relationships between the DESE and schools, districts, counties, and regions involved in youth risk behavior data collection efforts. The goal of the CoP is to increase the effectiveness of both state-wide and local youth risk behavior surveys.
If you are interested in participating, please contact OSFS.SchoolBasedSurveys@mass.gov.
The Massachusetts YRBS has been providing representative data about youth health risk behaviors since 1993.
Data from the MYRBS provide accurate estimates of the prevalence of risk behaviors among public high school students in the Commonwealth and are used to determine statewide changes in the prevalence of these behaviors over time. The data are important for planning health education and risk prevention programs. Additionally, the results of the MYRBS contribute to a national database of adolescent risk behaviors. Through careful examination of the MYRBS results, state and local agencies use the data to set priorities for improving the health of students across the Commonwealth.
Results for individual schools, districts, towns, or regions are not possible from the statewide MYRBS, as survey methodology is designed to give state level estimates only. Many schools and districts choose to conduct or participate in local surveys to gather important data about the risk behaviors of their own students. While sometimes confused with the MYRBS, these surveys are not administered, monitored, or tracked by the Department. Any reports or data tables that include results by school or district are not published by the Department and do not represent data from the MYRBS.
Chiniqua Milligan, MPH
School Health Analyst
Office of Student and Family Support
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has created an online application, Youth Online, by which individuals can analyze national, state, and local Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) data from all years YRBS has been administered. Data from high school and middle school surveys are included (Massachusetts does not conduct a YRBS in middle schools). Individuals can filter and sort on the basis of race/ethnicity, sex, grade, or site; create customized tables and graphs; and perform statistical tests by site and health topic. CDC does not include results of any questions that were added or modified for the state survey.
For individual researchers and organizations who wish to access additional MYRBS data, please read and complete the data use agreement form found below. The agreement outlines the terms and conditions for Department data sharing and must be filled out completely and returned to the Department. The returned agreement will serve as the official data request.
Detailed tables showing group differences by gender, grade level, and ethnicity and showing trends for major variables are available on request.
Last Updated: April 30, 2021
Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148-4906
Voice: (781) 338-3000
TTY: (800) 439-2370
Disclaimer: A reference in this website to any specific commercial products, processes, or services, or the use of any trade, firm, or corporation name is for the information and convenience of the public and does not constitute endorsement or recommendation by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.