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Angra do Heroísmo ,  December 07, 2015

Youth Risk Behaviour Surveillance System allows planning of interventions adjusted to the reality of the Azores

The Regional Director for Health stated in Angra do Heroísmo, that the results of the Youth Risk Behaviour Surveillance System (SVCRJ), implemented in the school year 2014/2015, will allow the "planning of interventions within the school health/child and youth health interventions adapted to the actual needs of this population."

Speaking on the sidelines of the presentation of the results of the SVCRJ implemented in Azorean schools, João Soares pointed out that this system aims to "contribute to the achievement of health gains for the young population in the archipelago, measuring the prevalence of risk behaviours."

This system was first applied in the school year 2013/2014, with the involvement of 29.6% of the target population. Given the low representation, the data were only sent for each school and the respective school health team so that they could plan the activities for the next school year in accordance with the most relevant needs and problems.

The target population for the school year 2014/2015 included all students from the 6th to 12th forms and other levels of the Regional Education System, covering a total of 20,278 students. A total of 10,121 were answered, representing 49.91% of the total sample.

Taking into consideration the number of students from the 6th to 8th forms who have ever been involved in a physical fight and comparing the percentage of students who were injured in these situations, it is possible to conclude that these situations are rare.

Accordingly, the Regional Director for Health pointed out that the issue of bullying, in all its aspects, has been "one of the major themes addressed by school health teams."

Comparing these data with those obtained in the previous year, which had little relevance, the result evidence a decline of about 1.5% in the percentage bullying victims in the last two months.

With regard to last year's data, the percentage of young people from the 9th to 12th forms who thought about hurting themselves or had suicidal thoughts decreased from 22.5% to 18.4% in the past 12 months.

However, João Soares stressed that these youngsters are in the final stage of adolescence (14-19 years), which is marked by a period of psychological changes.

"Since adolescence is a transition period, it is often marked by an exacerbation of feelings and conflicts that sometimes results in isolation and, consequently, in self-directed aggression," said the government official.

With regard to smoking, the results of the National Survey in Schools (INME) concluded that, in 2011, 18% of students attending public junior high schools have smoked in the 30 days preceding the study.

Comparing these data with the result of SVCRJ, the figures are below the results registered in the aforementioned study; only 2.8% (from 6th to 8th forms) and 7.0% (from 9th to 12th forms) reported that they smoked cigarettes on a daily basis in the last 30 days.
Similarly, alcohol consumption between 2006 and 2011 showed a downward trend, according to the INME.

The proportion of students living in the Azores who reported recent alcohol use (last 12 months) decreased from 17% to 12% in the junior high school and from 42% to 29% in secondary school.

As for the SVCRJ data, the high percentage of consumption mainly concern the desire for experimentation because, when compared with frequency and consumption habits, the percentages drop considerably; they are below the figures registered by INME (16.7%).

Furthermore, the data also reveals the persistence of some harmful eating habits in a significant percentage of students, namely the high consumption of sugary drinks and energy drinks as well as the daily absence of vegetable soup, fruit and breakfast.

Healthy eating is one of the topics most discussed by school health teams. It is even a statutory requirement, along with oral health for elementary school. However, promoting behaviour changes is always a time consuming action.

The Regional Director for Health stressed that SVCRJ intends to be a dynamic system, emerging as a "planning and intervention tool in public health."

 The implementation of this system allows knowing the health status of the target population (students from the 6th to 12th forms) in order to adjust, according to the results, interventions that prove to be dysfunctional. Moreover, it also encourages the monitoring of the indicators in the intervention are in school health under the Regional Health Plan.

This Youth Risk Behaviour Surveillance System resulted from the adaptation of the Youth Risk Behaviour Surveillance System, created in 1991. It has covered more than 2.6 million students.


Official government press-releases presented in all foreign languages interfaces of the Azorean Government Portal (Portal do Governo dos Açores) are a sub-set of the government's official press-releases daily output and are chosen for translation and publication on the foreign language interfaces based on audience segmentation criteria. The entire collection of the Azorean government press-releases is available in portuguese, here, from the GACS Press Office site.

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