Back-to-School: A Time to Think about Health and Academics


It’s that time again! This is an exciting time of year for students and families. As students go back to school, it is important that parents and students recognize key health and safety information that will help ensure a great start to the school year.

Teen HIV, STDs, and Pregnancy Prevention

The academic success of America’s youth is strongly linked with their overall health, and is one way to predict adult health outcomes. Recent data show that students with higher grades are less likely than their peers with lower grades to participate in certain risk behaviors related to substance use, violence, and sex. Addressing risk behaviors in school settings provides an opportunity for improving student health and supporting overarching school goals regarding academic outcomes.

Schools play a critical role in promoting the health and safety of young people and helping them take responsibility for their health, including HIV, STD, and pregnancy prevention. Standards-based, school health education should focus on both knowledge and skills development in a variety of topics, and should be supported by ongoing teacher training. In addition, schools can help teens learn how to navigate the healthcare system by introducing them to clinical settings and making clinical care more readily available through school-based healthcare or referrals to community healthcare settings. Schools can create safe and supportive environments that ensure safe physical environments and help students stay connected to the school through programs that emphasize inclusiveness. These approaches can help students establish healthy behaviors now and as they transition into adulthood.

Youth Nutrition and Physical Activity

Students spend an average of 6 hours a day at school, making schools an important partner in helping students meet daily physical activity recommendations, access nutritious foods, and learn about healthy behaviors. When schools, as well as parents, create an environment of health for students, they can positively influence health and learning. Data show that students who are more physically active and have healthier eating habits are better learners. Healthy students have higher levels of academic achievement, which includes grades and test performance, classroom behavior, attendance and graduation rates. Schools, parents, and communities can work together to improve student health and success in the classroom.  Schools can assess their nutrition and physical activity policies and practices by completing CDC’s School Health Index and implement strategies found in CDC’s School Health Guidelines to Promote Healthy Eating and Physical Activity. Parents can join their School Health Teams to help develop wellness policies and activities. CDC’s Parents for Healthy Schools resources can help parents identify other ways to be part of decision-making and find volunteer opportunities to support health at their child’s school. Community groups, organizations, and local businesses can create partnerships with schools, share resources, and volunteer to support student learning, development, and health-related activities.

Youth Violence, Bullying, Suicide

Youth violence is a significant public health problem that affects thousands of young people each day, and in turn, their families, schools, and communities. Youth violence typically involves young people hurting other peers who are unrelated to them and who they may or may not know well. Youth violence can take different forms. Examples include fights, bullying, threats with weapons, and gang-related violence. A young person can be involved with youth violence as a victim, offender, or witness. Youth violence is preventable.

Suicide is a serious public health problem that can have lasting harmful effects on individuals, families, and communities. While its causes are complex and determined by multiple factors, the goal of suicide prevention is simple: Reduce factors that increase risk (i.e. risk factors) and increase factors that promote resilience (i.e. protective factors). Ideally, prevention addresses all levels of influence: individual, relationship, community, and societal. Effective prevention strategies are needed to promote awareness of suicide and encourage a commitment to social change.




Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -

Filed Under: Fitness | Health | Healthy Lifestyle | Nutrition