Pubdate: Wed, 16 Mar 2016
Source: National Post (Canada)
Copyright: 2016 Canwest Publishing Inc.
Author: Randy Shore
Page: A6


VANCOUVER - Marijuana use is down among teenagers but bullying is up,
according to the results of the latest survey of nearly 30,000
children in 377 schools across the country, released by the World
Health Organization and the Public Health Agency of Canada.

The 2014 Health Behaviour in School-aged Children survey is conducted
in 44 countries every four years to take a snapshot of the mental and
physical health of children aged 11 to 15 in grades 6 through 10. It
was first administered in 1990.

"This study is about life, the universe and everything for teenagers,"
said Canadian co-author Elizabeth Saewyc, a professor at the
University of British Columbia. "We look at everything from whether
they are eating their vegetables to getting enough sleep and
risk-taking behaviour."

Cannabis use is now at its lowest level since 1990. About 23 per cent
of boys and girls aged 15 and 16 report having tried the drug - down
substantially from the peak years of 2002, when 50 per cent of boys
said they had smoked, and 1998, when 40 per cent of girls had tried

"Young people that have positive relationships with adults and that
feel connected at school are far less likely to use cannabis or
participate in risky drinking," Saewyc said. A dramatic drop since
2010 helped erase the steady growth in experimentation with cannabis
recorded through the 1990s.

Only one in five children in the survey participates in moderate to
vigorous physical activity often enough to meet Canada's physical
activity guidelines. That number hasn't changed much since 2002. In
Grade 10, 22 per cent of boys and only 10 per cent of girls are active
for at least 60 minutes a day. More than 50 per cent of boys and 40
per cent of girls watch more than two hours a day of television and
nearly as many spent more than two hours a day playing video games.

One in four children reported being bullied at least twice a week in
2014, a figure that has been rising since 2006. However, the number of
children who admit to victimizing others has dropped by half over the
same period. About two-thirds of girls at all ages report being
indirectly bullied, often through exclusion or spreading lies. By
Grade 10, 40 per cent say they have been sexually harassed.

When researchers probed for early signs of depression - feeling sad or
hopeless every day for two weeks in a row - they found Grade 9 and 10
girls were most at risk. More than 40 per cent reported sadness that
prevented them from doing their usual activities.

While the amount of candy and soft drinks consumed by school-aged
children has declined since 2002, about 40 per cent of students report
going through days without eating any fruits or vegetables. Only 40
per cent eat both fruits and vegetables once a day or more. One in
three boys and one in four girls are overweight or obese.
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