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

BC Bus North service extended to September

Transportation ministers have extended the service, which was set to expire at the end of May

Nisga’a leader named UNBC chancellor

Dr. Joseph Arthur Gosnell is the first Indigenous leader to assume the role

Northwest local governments team up to fill in future employment gaps

Around 17,000 jobs will need to be filled in the region over the next eight years

Poetry month sees launch of “Oona River Poems” at Rupert library

Peter Christensen consciously and lovingly documents our physical and psychological landscapes

Lily Swanson celebrates her 90th birthday in Prince Rupert

The Acropolis Manor resident has 22 grandchildren and is a great grandmother to 25 children

Prince Rupert students share portraits of kindness with children in Peru

The Memory Project gives teens a chance to sharpen their art skills and global awareness

‘B.C. cannot wait for action’: Top doctor urges province to decriminalize illicit drugs

Dr. Bonnie Henry says current approach in ‘war on drugs’ has criminalized and stigmatized drug users

Canfor curtailing operations across B.C.

Low lumber prices and the high cost of fibre are the cause of curtailment

B.C. woman, 76, challenges alcohol-screening laws after failing to give breath sample

Norma McLeod was unable to provide a sample because of her medical conditions

New report on 2017 wildfires calls for better coordination with B.C. First Nations

Tsilhqot’in National Government documents 2017 disaster and lists 33 calls to action

B.C. youth coach banned amid sexual harassment, bullying scandal: Water Polo Canada

Justin Mitchell can’t take part in Water Polo Canada events or clubs

Wilson-Raybould: Feds want to just ‘manage the problem’ of Indigenous Peoples

Former federal justice minister speaks at First Nations Justice Council meeting in B.C.

Haida youth travels to New York for UN forum on Indigenous issues

Haana Edensaw presented her speech in Xaad Kil, Masset dialect of the Haida language

Female real estate agents warned of suspicious man in Metro Vancouver

The man requests to see homes alone with the female agent, police say

Most Read