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 2017, children and youth under 18 years old comprised 23.3 percent of the total population in North Dakota (175,772). 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 percentage of North Dakota high school students 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). Among middle school students, 6.4 percent binge drank in the past month in 2015, down from 11.9 percent in 2011.
  • 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. 


Karen Olson: North Dakota among Top 10 States in Country for Child Well-Being

"According to the 2017 KIDS COUNT Data Book, North Dakota ranks ninth in the nation for overall child well-being. While we remain among the top 10 states this year, we cannot directly compare with last year’s ranking. Due to a change in how one of the four Education indicators is measured, it is difficult to know if a change in the overall ranking is a result of real change or if it is a result of the change in methodology."

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Kelly Sassi & Denise Lajimodiere: Turtle Mountain Teen Art and Writing Workshop: Enacting Culturally Responsive and Sustaining Pedagogy in a Summer Program for Native American Youth

"The workshop is sponsored by the Red River Valley Writing Project at North Dakota State University (NDSU), the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers, and Turtle Mountain Community Schools. The goal of the workshop is to provide opportunities for teens to express their creativity while developing skills in writing, art, and technology. Development of a personal voice and vision is a priority of the organizers. This workshop is unique in that it draws primarily from a pool of talented Native American artists and writers who both share their craft and serve as inspirational role models for young people."

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North Dakota Compass

Center for Social Research
North Dakota State University

Compass created by:
Wilder Research

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