Health of B.C. children and youth positive overall: report

Provincial health officers release findings on birth weights, tooth decay, substance use and more.

A new report shows an overall good grade on the health and well-being of children and youth in B.C., despite notable disparities between gender and regions.

The report, called “Is ‘Good’, Good enough?” was released Thursday morning by Child Health BC and the provincial health officer Dr. Perry Kendall at BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver.

It analyzes 51 indicators on a broad range of subjects, from birth weights to immunization to self-esteem.

The report was overall positive, Kendall said,  but shows a need to explore the reasoning behind the regional differences between children and youth health in urban and rural areas of the province.

“There are about 960,000 children and youth in B.C., and more exploration, analyses and focused attention are needed to ensure that groups of them are not left behind as the overall health of this population improves,” Kendall said.

Seventeen-year-old Morgan Peever told the crowd it’s “shocking that many indicators [are] a lot worse in northern communities.”

Peever, a resident from Fort St. John, is a member of the BC Student Voice – a group that connects leadership students together to focus on the education and health needs of their peers.

Members of the group meet twice a year to discuss priority needs, with this information contributing to the new report.

The report also showed differences between sex and genders when it comes to mental health, where females fared worse than males overall.

Female youth in grades 7 to 12 are more likely to consider and/or attempt suicide than male youth; however, male youth age 15 to 19 have a higher suicide mortality rate, according to the report.

Bullying – despite there being a decrease in cyber-bullying since 2008 – is also themed by gender.

In 2013, 57 per cent of females students in Grade 7 to 12 reported they were bullied, compared to 42 per cent of males.

Report highlights trends

Also of highlight, infant mortality rates, tooth decay, and tobacco and alcohol use in teenagers were on the decline, while the numbers show fewer children going to bed hungry — though that rate still sits at six per cent.

Of concern, one-third of B.C. children are not not up-to-date with their immunizations by the age of seven, or entering into Grade 1.

Similarly, B.C.’s urban residents make up the highest percentage of people with unstable housing in the country, particularly in Vancouver (20 per cent), compared to Abbotsford (13 per cent).

“It’s one of the things we know impact ability to learn and grow,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry, deputy provincial health officer.

Henry noted there are significant gaps of data on children and youth mental health.

“We don’t have rates of youth experiencing mental health issues and treatment,” she said. “[It’s] something we need to do better.”

However, youth generally have a “good positive view” of themselves, she noted.

The full report can be found here.

@ashwadhwaniashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

PHOTOS: Floodwaters rise and fall in Grand Forks

The flood-ravaged Kootenay-Boundary region begins to heal

VIDEO: Grand Forks shores up defences as floodwaters rise to peak levels

Canadian Forces, volunteers working to protect low-lying areas

UPDATED: Majority of flood evacuees in Kootenay-Boundary allowed to return home

Officials hope to have all 3,000 people back in their homes by Monday night

VIDEO: As floodwaters recede, crews assess the damage to Grand Forks’ downtown

More than four dozen firefighters and building inspectors came out to help

VIDEO: Canadian Forces members begin helping out flooded B.C. communities

Three-hundred personnel in B.C. in some off hardest hit cities

VIDEO: After the floods, comes the cleanup in Grand Forks

Business owners in downtown wonder how long it will take for things to go back to normal

UPDATE: Woman dies in ocean accident near Tofino hours before daughter’s wedding

“We are so thankful to everyone who helped our mom.”

Olympian sues USA Swimming, saying it failed to protect her

Ariana Kukors Smith alleges her former coach Sean Hutchison began grooming her for sexual abuse at the age of 13

Defence minister thanks troops for B.C. flood relief work

Harjit Sajjan says not only was military response quick, support from locals has been ‘tremendous’

Couple survives being buried in mudslide on B.C. highway

The couple, from Saskatchewan, were en route to Nelson when a tree fell in their path

‘So grateful:’ Injured Bronco hockey player glad he’s alive, works on recovery

Ryan Straschnitzki was badly hurt in the accident: a spinal injury, broken ribs, a broken collar bone, and punctured lung

Martin Mars waterbombers’ firefighting days are done

Wayne Coulson said his company still hopes to find a new home for the vintage aircraft

NHL playoffs weekly roundup

Vegas Golden Knights have done the impossible and have a chance at hoisting the Stanley Cup

Changes needed for ‘Alert Ready’ mass emergency system

‘You need to strike this careful balance between alerting people to lots of problems — and doing it too often’

Most Read