West Virginia’s students are suffering from the fallout of the Opioid Epidemic that is engulfing the state’s adults. The trauma these children are experiencing at home is affecting not only their ability to learn but their entire lives. Violent and erratic behavior — most likely a response to toxic stress — is increasing in frequency, duration, and intensity, especially among younger children. In today’s classrooms, teachers and administrators are having to address students’ most basic physical, social-emotional, behavioral, and mental health needs before they can provide classroom instruction, putting additional burdens on educators and staff already stretched to capacity.
- 57.8 people per 100,000 died from drug-related overdose deaths in West Virginia (WV) in 2017, the highest rate in the United States.
- 6,938 children in West Virginia were placed in foster care as of March 2019. Parental substance abuse was a factor in 82% of those placements.
- 33 out of every 1,000 infants were born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome in 2013; many of these children entered kindergarten in the fall of 2018; 50.6 out of every 1,000 infants were born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome in 2017.
- The Opioid Epidemic costs the state’s economy $8.8 billion a year (12 percent of GPD)- the largest share of GPD among states– for health care and substance abuse treatment, criminal justice costs, lost work productivity, and burden of fatal overdoses.
- More than 40,000* children live with grandparents or other relatives.
- 10.6% of all children under age 18
- 34,806 of these children live with grandparents
- 21.5% of those grandparents live in poverty
- West Virginia ranked 14th in the nation for suicide rates at 18.4 per 100,000 people compared to the national average of 13.8.
- The second leading cause of death among individuals ages 15-34 in WV is suicide.
CDC Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance
The Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) has been conducted among a representative sample of West Virginia high school and middle school students since 1993. This survey, developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), asks students about a variety of risky and protective health related behaviors. It is administered every other year.
CDC School Health Profiles
The School Health Profiles (Profiles), also developed by the CDC, are administered to high school and middle school administrators and their lead health educators. Conducted every other year, these surveys focus on school policies, procedures, and practices related to health, safety, and wellbeing.