In 1989 the Teen Assessment Project (TAP) survey was introduced to Grant County schools. In later years it was conducted in Iowa, Richland and Crawford Counties. In recent years, the counties have combined efforts to conduct the Southwest Wisconsin Youth Survey (SWYS).
The idea behind these surveys and the current Southwest Wisconsin Youth Survey conducted in Crawford, Grant, Iowa, Lafayette, and Richland Counties, was to gain valuable information about the teen population in order to more effectively address the needs of local teens, families and communities. Specifically these surveys attempt to address the needs of youth by providing reliable information on several key questions:
- What are some positive indicators of youth behavior and attitudes?
- What are the most critical issues faced by teens in the area?
- How widespread are the issues?
- Are there any clues as to the causes and possible solutions for the issues?
- What can we do to help?
The 25 participating schools administered the 2009 Southwest Wisconsin Youth Survey with these questions in mind. The schools utilized the expertise of local UW-Extension faculty and academic staff members and the University of Wisconsin-Platteville to organize and implement the survey as well as to analyze the data and communicate the results. CESA #3 provided a forum for project coordination. School districts are currently analyzing their own data to determine individual issues and allocate what resources they can to address these issues.
It is our belief that as we continue to tackle issues facing our local youth, we will develop a broader understanding of how best to help youth meet these issues and challenges. We also believe that even with current data, adults can make incorrect assumptions about how young people are feeling and seeing the world. Therefore, if we are to truly make a dent in the issues raised in this report, it is important to involve young people as well as adults in developing strategies to address them.