News Perspectives

Teens at Top High Schools Take Fewer Health Risks

Going to a top-performing public high school can reduce very risky health behaviors among low-income teens, a new study suggests. These behaviors include binge drinking, substance use at school, risky sex and joining a gang. The study included high school students from low-income neighborhoods in Los Angeles who applied to top-performing charter schools. These schools choose students through a lottery. All of the students had similar test scores. They also came from similar family backgrounds. Researchers surveyed the health behaviors of two groups of students. One group included 521 students who got in to one of these top schools through the lottery. The other group included 409 students who applied but did not get in. The survey showed that 36% of the charter-school students compared with 42% of the other students admitted to very risky behaviors.

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