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Survey: Fargo kids with social capital aren’t involved in as much risky behavior

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Jeff Schatz, Fargo Public Schools superintendent, discusses Thursday, June 7, the results of a student survey that examined social capital and risky behavior such as substance abuse. Carissa Wigginton / The Forum2 / 2

FARGO – A survey of middle and high school students from across the city found that kids with higher levels of social capital were less likely to abuse substances and take part in other risky activities.

“It reinforces social capital theory: Kids that feel safe and connected within their community engage in less at-risk behavior,” Fargo Public Schools Superintendent Jeff Schatz said Thursday, June 7 at a news conference at the Dakota Medical Foundation.

About 5,200 kids completed the survey between October and December, Schatz said. The survey was conducted by LevelUp Fargo, a group focussed on boosting ties within the community to help youth thrive.

The superintendent said it was stunning to see the correlation between how low the social capital level was when a student engaged in a high amount of risky behaviors.

The survey found that 20 percent of local youth feel alone in their lives, 14 percent of kids don’t feel adults in their community care about them, and 20 percent said they could not trust other people, said Chris Rood, LevelUp’s program director.

Rood said the number of students engaging in risky behaviors such as substance abuse has been slightly decreasing since the first youth surveys were implemented in 2008.

“It’s really important that we connect as a community. That’s what it’s all about – the relationships,” she said.