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Status and Trends in the Education of Racial and Ethnic Minorities
NCES 2010-015
July 2010

Chapter 5. Student Behaviors

Indicator 19: After-School Time Use
Indicator 20: Cigarettes, Alcohol, and Drug Use
Indicator 21: Teenage Pregnancy
Indicator 22: Safety at School

This chapter focuses on behaviors students engage in that could influence their educational experiences and outcomes. The first indicator, indicator 19, examines students' use of after-school time, focusing on the time spent on homework or at a part-time job. For example, in 2007, parents of Asian high schoolers reported that their children spent the highest number of hours on homework per week—10 hours on average—when compared with parents of students of other races/ethnicities. In addition, 68 percent of parents of Asian students reported that their children did homework 5 or more days per week; this percentage was higher than the percentages for White (44 percent), Hispanic (40 percent), and Black (30 percent) students. In 2008, about 24 percent of all high school students who were 16 years or older were employed. The percentage of White students who worked (29 percent) was higher than that of Black (14 percent), Hispanic (18 percent), Asian (14 percent), or American Indian/Alaska Native (14 percent) students.

Indicators 20, 21, and 22 examine negative student behaviors and focus on illegal substance usage, teenage pregnancy rates, and crime rates at school. In 2007, among children between the ages of 12 and 17, about 16 percent reported drinking alcohol in the past month, 10 percent reported smoking cigarettes in the past month, and 7 percent reported using marijuana in the past month. These percentages varied by race/ethnicity (indicator 20). For example, a higher percentage of White (18 percent) and Hispanic (15 percent) children ages 12 to 17 reported drinking alcohol in the past month than did their Black and Asian peers (10 and 8 percent, respectively).

Although teenage birth rates declined between 1991 and 2005, they increased in the more recent time period between 2005 and 2007 (indicator 21). Expressed as a rate per 1,000 15- to 19-year-olds, the 2007 birth rates for Hispanic (82 births per 1,000 15- to 19-year-olds), Black (64 per 1,000), and American Indian/Alaska Native (59 per 1,000) teenage females were higher than the birth rates for White (27 per 1,000) and Asian/Pacific Islander (17 per 1,000) teenage females.

 Indicator 22 provides information on the percentages of high school students who reported being threatened or injured with a weapon on school property; the percentages who reported having illegal drugs offered, sold, or given to them on school property; and the reported presence of gangs in elementary and secondary schools. Percentages also varied by race/ethnicity: for example in grades 9 through 12, in 2007, about 13 percent of students of two or more races, 10 percent of Black students, and 9 percent of Hispanic students reported being threatened or injured with a weapon on school property in the past 12 months. The percentages for White and American Indian/Alaska Native students were lower: 7 percent and 6 percent, respectively.