The Challenge

In Dallas County, the prevalence of some risk behaviors affects more than 30,000 children who suffer from a serious mental or addictive disorder, as reported by the Children’s Medical Center of Dallas. In addition, DISD students face the following challenges:

Disciplinary Incidents

The number of juveniles committed to the Texas Youth Commission has increased by 27.5 percent in recent years. It is estimated that 32% of all Dallas teens will end up in prison.

Drug and Alcohol Abuse

Nearly half of DISD high school students admit to using alcohol. Twenty percent report having recently used marijuana.

Teen Pregnancy

In 2006, Dallas teenagers gave birth to over 3,700 children with a 28% repeat birth rate.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Recent studies indicate that over 5,300 Dallas teens have sexually transmitted diseases.

Graduation Rates

Among “big city school districts,” DISD had the third worst graduation rate in 2006 at 40.7%. In 2008, that number was estimated at 44%.

Education Level

Only 4% of DISD high school seniors read at a 12th grade standard; only 1% compete in mathematics at a 12th grade standard.

Truancy & Drop Out

More than 37,000 truancy cases were filed in Dallas County truancy and JP courts in recent years. Between 50-60% of all DISD students will drop out of school prior to graduating.


Suicide alone is the third leading cause of death in the 15 to 17-year-old age group in Dallas County. In Texas, 28% of teen suicides occurred in adolescents ages 10-14 in 2000.

DISD spends about $40,000 per high school graduate, during four years of high school, to prepare that graduate for the future. But are they truly being prepared for what is ahead?

Research shows that most people establish their health behaviors at an early age, and students involved in risky behaviors are at increased risk for many diseases, injury, and/or premature death. Sometimes the impacts of these behaviors can be seen at an early age. Other impacts will take years to observe because the consequences of these high risk behaviors grow additively or exponentially over a lifetime.

Thus, when risky behaviors are prevalent among youth, we can expect to see increases in the prevalence of chronic diseases and premature mortality as these youth move into adulthood. This strains societies through the overburdening of our healthcare system, the loss of our tax base, and most importantly the loss of quality and years of life.

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