Are our kids all right? Survey takes the pulse of Montreal’s sixth graders

A survey completed by most of Montreal's sixth graders last year gives politicians, educators and parents a look at how the kids are doing.

Photo: JOHN MAHONEY / MONTREAL GAZETTE

 

Child development experts recognize sixth grade as a crucial time of transition — between primary and secondary school, childhood and adolescence — when kids are developing a sense of autonomy and adopting lifelong habits, good and bad.

So last year, Montreal’s regional public health authority decided to take a serious, in-depth look at Montreal’s 11- and 12-year-olds as a way of determining what’s going well and what’s not at this crucial age. In short, they wanted to take a hard look at whether our kids are all right.

The Centre intégré universitaire de santé et de services sociaux du Centre-Sud-de-l’Île de Montréal (CIUSSS) asked about 13,400 kids — 83 per cent of all sixth graders on the island — to complete a detailed survey. The researchers asked the kids questions about their health, behaviours, lifestyle and educational aspirations. They also surveyed 7,800 parents for more information on subjects like socioeconomics and cultural diversity.

Here, by the numbers, are some highlights from the resulting report, titled Portrait des jeunes Montréalais de 6e année. The report was presented Thursday morning at a conference called Grand Rendez-vous montréalais: Comment vont nos jeunes?, which took place at Montreal’s Palais des Congrès.

Percentage of Montreal sixth graders who:

  • Have at least one parent born outside Canada: 59%
  • Speak more than one language at home: 57%
  • Have at least one parent who has a college or university degree: 85%
  • Have at least one parent who is employed: 92%
  • Live in a household where income was insufficient to cover the rent/mortgage, food or other essentials within the past year: 16%
  • Endured at least one episode of physical violence at school or on the way to school in the last school year: 17%
  • Were victims of cyberbullying during the last school year: 6%
  • Sometimes go to school without eating breakfast: 38%
  • Had not eaten breakfast even once in the week preceding the survey: 14%
  • Don’t get the recommended amount of exercise (60 minutes per day): 65%
  • Sleep less than the recommended number of hours per night for their age group (nine hours): 25%
  • Eat less than the recommended number of servings of fruits and vegetables (six) per day: 62%
  • Exceed the recommended maximum of two hours of screen time (TV, video, social media etc.) per day during the week: 40%,  weekends: 61%
  • Exceed four hours of screen time during the week: 21%
  • Have tried alcohol: 20%
  • Have tried smoking a cigarette: 2.7%
  • Are considered at risk of dropping out of school before finishing high school: 5%

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