Adolescents with adult support


Students' access to adult support is linked to moms' education.

Photo Courtesy of BSK/COO


In a survey of Washington public school students, 8th, 10th, and 12th graders were asked if they had an adult in their neighborhood or community they could talk to about something important. 

Combining data from 2014 and 2016, 75% of King County students reported having a supportive adult in their lives.

  • Place: At 69%, South Region had the lowest proportion of students with adults they could turn to. East and North Regions reported the highest proportions, at 81% and 80%, respectively.

  • Race and ethnicity: White students (83%) were most likely to report having an adult to talk to. The proportion of students reporting access to adult support was below the King County average in 5 race/ethnicity groups: Latino students (63%), Blacks/African American students (65%), Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders students (66%), American Indians and Alaska Native students (70%), and Asian students (71%).

  • Mother’s education:  The probability of students having an adult to talk to increased with mothers’ education level, from 61% for students whose mothers had less than a high school education to 84% of those whose mothers had advanced degrees.

  • Trends: Overall, the proportion of King County students who can turn to a supportive adult increased from 68% in 2004 to 75% in 2016.

    • This trend was mirrored by all race/ethnicity groups except American Indians and Alaska Natives (AIAN) and Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders (NHPI); adult support has increased for multiple-race students since 2008.

    • Although access to adult support has increased across all regions, the difference between East Region (highest access) and South Region (lowest access) tripled, from 4% in 2004 to 12% in 2016.  Over the 12-year period, the proportion of students reporting that they had access to adult support increased by at least 9% in Seattle, East, and North Regions; students in South Region, however, reported only a 2% increase (67% to 69%).  

There were no significant differences based on students’ gender or grade.


Notes and Sources

Source: Healthy Youth Survey 2014-2016

Numerator: Students who answered “Yes” to the question, “Do you have an adult in your life with whom you can talk to about serious problems?”

Denominator: All students who answered the question.

Every 2 years, Washington public school students in 6th, 8th, 10th, and 12th grades students answer questions about safety and violence, physical activity and diet, alcohol, tobacco and other drug use, and related risk and protective factors. To learn more about the survey, please go to