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Today's Teens: Less Smoking, Sex and Violence – Seriously

Centers for Disease Control annual survey of more than 13,000 high school students found smoking down, but a new risky behavior is becoming a concern.

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The number of teenagers who smoke has hit historically low levels, the Centers for Disease Control reported.

That's the good news. The bad news is that new forms of risky behavior, such as texting while driving, is increasingly becoming a problem. The information comes from the CDC's annual National Youth Risk Behavior Survey of more than 13,000 high school students across the country.

According to the survey, the teen smoking rate has dropped to 15.7 percent, the lowest rate since the survey began in 1991.

Teens also are having far fewer fights and physical confrontations:
  • The percentage of high school students nationwide who had been in a physical fight at least once during the past 12 months decreased from 42 percent in 1991 to 25 percent in 2013.
  • Fights on school property have been cut in half during the past 20 years.  Sixteen percent of high school students were in at least one physical fight on school property during the 12 months before the survey in 1993, compared to 8 percent in 2013.
“It’s encouraging that high school students are making better health choices such as not fighting, not smoking, and not having sex,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H.  “Way too many young people still smoke and other areas such as texting while driving remain a challenge.  Our youth are our future.  We need to invest in programs that help them make healthy choices so they live long, healthy lives.”

The CDC also asked teenagers about their driving habits and their use of technology. The number of teens who texted or emailed when driving ranged from 32 percent to 61 percent depending on the state.

Overall, 41 percent of those surveyed reported they texted or emailed while driving in the 30 days prior to the survey being taken.

Although the number of teenagers, according to the survey, who are sexually active has dropped since 1991, but they also are being less careful.
  • The percentage of high school students who are currently sexually active (had sexual intercourse during the past three months) has declined from 38 percent in 1991 to 34 percent in 2013.
  • Among the high school students who are currently sexually active, condom use also has declined from 63 percent in 2003 to 59 percent in 2013. This decline follows a period of increased condom use throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. 
Chuck Ruff June 15, 2014 at 06:48 AM
Oh please!!!! If the survey had concluded the opposite of what it had, then everyone would be bemoaning the moral breakdown of our youth, the failure of schools, lack of proper parenting, yada, yada, yada. But since the survey reports good news, then people simply discount it as being inaccurate, and claim that the kids were lying. I don’t find this survey surprising at all. When I was a teenager, most of us had sex, all of us smoked (and usually various substances), and fights would break out all the time. I think teens today are much better than we were; smarter, less prejudice, and less apt to engage in risky behavior. However, I know this is very hard for some to accept, since it would destroy their pre-conceived notions that things were oh so much better in the good old days, and we acted much better as kids than kids do today. Clean out the memory cells and face reality.
A Delargo June 15, 2014 at 06:25 PM
Less sex then in 1991 ? Total hogwash. The little darlings just lie better today. Parents are more clueless then in 1991 --- oh not my child !
Dr G June 17, 2014 at 09:50 AM
I miss the high school days of smoking Js and banging cheerleaders
Brandon June 27, 2014 at 06:33 PM
I miss the good ole days of haizng the wimpy little nerds without getting in trouble. School admins these days will write you up if you breathe in the wrong place. My son was suspended for slapping a girls ass which i have no problem with
Grandpamike June 27, 2014 at 08:26 PM
Like father,like son. You sound so proud.

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