Improving Quality of Life

Quality of life can be improved when children and youth have high-quality relationships, guidance, and investment from their communities to develop into successful adults.

Children and youth experience numerous transitions and face a wealth of physical, mental, social, and emotional changes on the path to adulthood. Raising children in a loving, stable environment that provides positive stimulation, and making sure they receive early screening and intervention for health and/or developmental problems help increase positive wellbeing and increases the chance of a bright future. As children become more independent of their parents, friends and peers become important to their development. Positive new experiences and behaviors, in addition to healthy relationships, empower young people to develop into thriving adults, actively engaged in their continued education, careers, civic life, and their families.

What's happening

  • In 2016, children and youth under 18 years old comprised 23.3 percent of the total population in North Dakota (176,311). Due to an increase in resident births and an influx of younger families into the state, the number of children has grown consistently since 2010.
  • The percent of North Dakota high schoolers who binge drank in the past month has been nearly cut in half since 2007 (17.6% in 2015 as compared to 32.5% in 2007). Even so, 10.9 percent of 9th graders and 25.9 percent of 12th graders reported binge drinking in 2015. Among middle school students, 21.0 percent have ever had a drink of alcohol (not counting a few sips). By high school, 48.9 percent of 9th graders and 73.9 percent of 12th graders had had a drink of alcohol.
  • More than one-third of North Dakota high school students have ever had sexual intercourse (38.9% in 2015). While 20.3 percent of 9th graders reported having had sex, 54.0 percent of 12th graders have had sex. Overall, 55.2 percent of high school students have had an adult in their family talk to them about expectations regarding sexual behavior, with slight variation across all grade levels. Among middle school students, 5.2 percent had ever had sex and 36.9 percent reported an adult family member talking to them about sex.

Making connections

Building a pathway to success begins early in life, and must provide opportunities for all children and youth. Maintaining good health, via regular medical checkups, proper nutrition, and exercise, starting at an early age can lead to optimal growth and development of children and youth. Quality educational experiences (e.g., preschool enrollment) and opportunities produce positive outcomes that compound throughout an individual’s life as they enter into the workforce and start contributing to the economy and community. In addition, having meaningful, caring, and supportive relationships in young people’s lives is also connected to a range of positive outcomes, some of which include better academic motivation, improved grades, greater civic engagement, and higher ambitions for the future. Therefore, an investment in our children is an investment in the future of our state. 


Sean E. Brotherson: Father Involvement and the Future of Children and Families

"A body of research that is impressive in its size and breadth has been conducted that examines the question of how fathers make contributions to the well-being of children and families. Such research confirms that all caring adults, including mothers, fathers, and other caregivers, are important in the lives of children. Additionally, it suggests that committed, involved fathers and father figures bring many positive elements to the growth and development of children, the stability of families, and the well-being of communities".

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Wendy Troop-Gordon: What Has Science Taught Us About Bullying?

"Despite huge efforts to educate the public about bullying, a number of myths still abound. Unfortunately, these misconceptions hamper our ability to effectively prevent bullying and address it when it happens".

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Lynette Schaff: Bullying- Just a Schoolyard Problem? Think Again!

"Many people don’t realize that bullying is happening all around us. Bullying isn’t just in schools. It’s thriving throughout the community. Bullying is a topic people don’t like to talk about. I think some people think if it doesn’t affect them directly, it isn’t important. But it’s so very important! If it doesn’t affect you directly, it affects somebody close to you. It impacts so many people".

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North Dakota Compass

North Dakota Compass

Compass created by:
Wilder Research

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