UBC Faculty Research and Publications

The XY factor : the state of boys' and young men's health in BC Saewyc, Elizabeth; Rivers, Robert; Creighton, Genevieve; Drozda, Christopher; Roelofsen, Derek; Oliffe, John Lindsay


This report brings together population-level data, where it exists, about the health indicators for boys (12 to 18 years) and young men (19 to 25 years) in British Columbia. Some of the data offers comparisons to girls and young women, while other data examines trends in health issues over time, or highlights different groups of young men who experience unequal risks and opportunities for health. Some of these are specific health conditions or illnesses, while others are environmental or risk behaviours that are strongly linked to illness, disability, or even death for boys and young men. They may affect boys’ and young men’s health while they are young, or set patterns that can lead to poor health or early mortality among older men. Together these data provide a picture of the key factors that contribute to the health status of boys and young men in Western Canada, and can serve as a source of information to help guide priority setting for health promotion and policy. Key issues include: Violence victimization, whether in the form of physical and sexual abuse, or bullying, or physical assaults and fighting, is an important contributor to a variety of the health issues identified in this report. • Young men 18-24 have the highest police-reported rates of violence, and of hospital visits or admissions for violence exposure • Half (49.7%) of boys in school in BC report experiencing at least one type of physical or sexual violence • Aboriginal youth, as well as gay and bisexual boys, are more likely to experience physical and sexual violence, and the rates appear to be increasing for these groups Mental Health issues have mixed evidence among boys and young men. • Boys and young men are less likely to report or be diagnosed with depression than girls and young women; however, • Suicide is the second leading cause of death among boys and young men in BC, and 75% of suicides in this age group are among males. • Gay and bisexual boys in BC are 7 times more likely to report suicide attempts than heterosexual boys (28% vs. 4%), and this is linked to violence victimization. Binge Drinking is strongly linked to mental health issues, traffic accidents, injuries and death among boys and young men in BC. • Although rates for ever having tried alcohol have declined among boys in school, rates of binge drinking have remained stable, with 44% of boys who have ever tried alcohol reporting they drank 5 or more drinks in a row at least once in the past month. • Among young men 18 to 24, nearly half of them (47%) report binge drinking at least 12 times in the past year, compared to 29% of young women. Traffic Accidents are the leading cause of death among boys and young men worldwide, and BC is no exception. • Injuries leading to death are relatively low among boys under 15, but peak among young men ages 20 to 24. Young men dramatically outnumber young women in traffic-related injuries. • More than 2000 boys and young men in BC are injured in traffic accidents each year. Work-Related Injuries affect young men under the age of 25 in BC more than any other age group or gender, in part because of the types of employment they are engaged in. • 3 out of every 4 workplace claims from young workers are from young men. • 65% of the deaths among BC workers in forestry, mining and the commercial transport sectors are young men ages 25 and under. Sexually-Transmitted Infections are one outcome of risky sexual behaviours; in the sexual health evidence for boys and young men, there are both hopeful and concerning trends. • On average, boys in school are delaying first sexual intercourse until they are older, but1 in 3 sexually active boys still reported using alcohol or drugs the last time they had sex. • Rates of chlamydia and gonorrhea appear to be rising among both boys and young men, although they are still far less likely than girls and young women to access STI testing. Overweight and Obesity are health issues that can have longer-term health effects, and are a growing concern among young people in Canada. • Up to 1 in 3 boys and nearly half of young men are overweight or obese, higher rates than for girls and young women their same age. Sports Involvement and Physical Activity offer more positive news. Boys and young men are more likely to engage in regular physical activity or sports, but some have less access to sporting activities. • New Canadians are less likely to exercise or play sports than those born in Canada. However, the longer they have lived in Canada, the more their involvement increases. Tobacco Use remains a health concern because, although boys and girls are equally likely to start smoking cigarettes, boys and young men are more likely to use other tobacco products as well. Recommendations During the creation of this report it became clear that we lack key provincial and national data about some groups, and that we need ways to gather reliable data from these groups: • Young people 19 to 24 years • Boys and young men from diverse ethno-cultural groups, including young Aboriginal men • Gay, bisexual, transgender and gender-variant youth • Homeless, street-involved or other marginalized groups

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