Guide to the Fairfax County Youth Survey



2011 Youth Survey Image Use this guide to familiarize yourself with The Fairfax County Youth Survey - what it is, where to find data and how to use the results in order to be informed about youth behavior and experiences in Fairfax County.

Visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/youthsurvey to view results, survey instruments and information, videos, and Fact Sheets.

 

What is the Fairfax County Youth Survey?

The Fairfax County Youth Survey  is a comprehensive, anonymous, and voluntary survey that examines the behaviors, experiences, and risk and protective factors that influence the well-being of our county’s youth.  Results are representative of the Fairfax County Public School population (by gender and race/ethnicity). 

Why do we conduct the Fairfax County Youth Survey?

County, school, and community–based organizations rely on the survey to assess youth needs and strengths, develop programs, monitor trends, measure outcomes, and guide countywide planning of prevention efforts. The data from the survey provide baseline measures and ongoing data that allow us to track our progress over time in building on youth assets and reducing risk. The survey ensures that we make decisions based on data and ensures a more efficient and effective use of resources.

Most importantly, the results of this survey provide a snapshot of our youth, as well as serve as a barometer of our own effectiveness as a community in fostering healthy choices in our young people. The findings should be used to generate dialogue in the community and be a catalyst for initiating action among parents, teachers, other professionals, and the community at large.

Who participates in the survey?

The survey is given to 6th, 8th, 10th, and 12th grade Fairfax County Public School students at all FCPS elementary schools with 6th grade classes, all FCPS middle schools, all FCPS secondary schools, all FCPS high schools and some FCPS alternative schools.  In 2010, the participation rate was over 85%, with 44,199 respondents.

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What topics are included in the survey?

  • Substance Use
  • Sexual Activity (8th, 10th and 12th graders)
  • Vehicle Safety – Drunk Driving (12th graders only)
  • Bullying
  • Cyberbullying
  • Other Aggressive Behavior
  • Weapons
  • Gang Membership (8th, 10th and 12th graders)
  • Other Delinquent Behaviors
  • Physical Activity
  • Rest (8th, 10th and 12th graders)
  • Nutrition
  • Mental Health
  • Extracurricular Activities
  • Civic Behaviors
  • Screentime (6th graders only in 2010)
  • Risk and Protective Factors

In even-numbered years, the 8th, 10th, and 12th graders are given a survey instrument that focuses more on Healthy Behaviors to coincide with the national Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey (YRBS) for national comparisons.  In odd-numbered years, those same grade levels are given a survey instrument that focuses more on Risk and Protective Factors.

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When is the survey adminstered?  

Beginning in 2009, the Fairfax County Youth Survey is administered annually during a 4-day window in early- to mid-November.  The actual administration date(s) within the window is at each school principal’s discretion.  The administration window is scheduled such that it does not fall within 30 days after a holiday which may exaggerate 30-day substance use prevalence rates. The 30-day use questions on the survey are used as a proxy to determine rates of regular substance abuse.  Results of the Fairfax County Youth Survey are reported out and published the following fall. The survey takes one class period (50 minutes).

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Where do I find the results of the Fairfax County Youth Survey?

Visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/youthsurvey

Survey Results

A Full Report of the survey includes an executive summary, information on the administration, design and validation of the survey, demographics of the population who took the survey, narrative descriptions highlighting results, data tables and figures for each topic.

The PowerPoint Presentation provides highlights from the Fairfax County Youth Survey Report in a graphic format.

An archive of Fairfax County Youth Surveys is available to view previous results.

Survey Instruments and Information

The Survey Instruments are the scantron documents that are presented to the students to administer the survey.

Parent Letters and Opt-Out Forms are information provided to parents prior to the survey administration.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) answer some of the more often asked questions about the survey administration and purpose of the survey. 

Videos

Based on the data results of the Fairfax County Youth Survey, video informational messages were developed around select topics to share data results, help identify warning signs of risk behaviors and suggest things parents and communities can do to help.

Fact Sheets

Based on the data results of the Fairfax County Youth Survey, handouts were developed around select topics to share data results, help identify warning signs of risk behaviors and suggest things parents and communities can do to help.  The fact sheets include contacts and helpful websites for more information. 

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What should I know about the data?

Results from the survey are based on student self-reported behavior and experiences.  Research has shown that this type of data can be gathered as reliably from adolescents as from adults.  Youth are assured that the survey is anonymous and that their responses are not linked to them.  

Cross-tabulations of data do not imply cause and effect.  For example, when we look at results by demographics (e.g., symptoms of depression by gender) or the cross of two experiences (e.g., symptoms of depression by substance use), the results do not say that being a certain gender or using substances causes depression.  The data indicate there is a correlation of the female gender reporting higher prevalence of reported depressive symptoms.  Similarly, youth who use substances are more likely to report symptoms of depression, but the report cannot say whether the substance use causes depression or whether depression leads to substance use.

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