Teens Are Having Less Sex, Doing Fewer Drugs, Still Bully Each Other


How do you do, fellow kids?

According to a new report conducted by the National Youth Risk Behavior Survey and released by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sex and doin’ drugs is on the decline among teens. But before you run off and type that “Teens are boring now!” Facebook status, old fart, know that other health risks remain prevalent in American adolescents, namely, depression, suicidal ideation, and bullying.

The report is the result of more than 1,700 surveys and 3.8 million high school students (excluding home-schooled kids.) The numbers: 39.5 percent of teens claimed to have had sexual intercourse, a significant decline from 47.8 percent in 2007. However! There’s been a share decrease in safe sex via condoms: only 53.8 percent sexually active teens in 2017 said they used a rubber, compared to 61.5 percent in 2007.

Kathleen Ethier, director of the CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health in the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, one of the authors of the report broke it down for CNN:

“Overall, I think youth are making better decisions, particularly about their sexual behavior and their drug use. At the same time, the rate of violence and victimization they’re experiencing hasn’t gone down. Bullying hasn’t decreased. The proportion of youth who have ever been physically forced to have sex has not decreased. We’re seeing increases in experiences of persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness and suicide ideation and behaviors, and so that remains a great concern.
We are seeing that fewer youth are initiating sex; they’re having fewer partners; they’re more likely to use effective methods of hormonal birth control. While we’re seeing positive changes in most of the sexual behaviors, youth are also less likely to use a condom, and so that remains a concern, particularly around HIV and STD risk.”

As for drugs, the report finds that 14 percent of teens have used “certain illicit drugs,” including “cocaine, inhalants, heroin, meth, hallucinogens or ecstasy.” That number just a decade ago, in 2007, was 22.6 percent—an impressive drop. Also: 1.5 percent of teens claimed to have injected drugs, compared to 2 percent in 2007.

But bullying is still shit, and very, very, present: 19.9 percent of teens said they’d been bullied at school, up from 19 percent in 2009; 14.9 percent cited cyberbullying compared to 16.2 percent of students in a 2011 poll.

And in issues regarding mental health, the results are harrowing: 17.2 percent of teens reported “seriously considering attempting suicide,” compared to 14.5 percent in 2007. A whopping 31.5 percent claimed to “experiencing persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness,” compared to 28.5 percent in 2007. That’s a considerable increase.

Ethier told CNN:

“It’s the things they are experiencing, whether it’s violence, victimization or mental health and suicide risk, where we still have great concern. When we put this data out every two years, it really provides a great dashboard for the health of the nation’s youth, and so we continue to really trust that the trends that we’re seeing really are what’s happening in high schools around the country…

Read the full report here.

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