Despite the name of the popular television series, the lives of American teenagers are rarely secret. Teens share even the most mundane details of their lives on social media, and now, more than 15,000 high school students have further divulged their secrets to the Centers for Disease Control 2011 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) released this week.
It’s no mystery that teens engage in high-risk behaviors, but parents, educators and health professionals have a vested interest in knowing which boundaries teens are pushing and how far they are willing to go.
The 2011 report includes National YRBS data and data from surveys conducted in 43 states and 21 large urban school districts and assesses high risk behaviors including unintentional injuries and violence; tobacco, alcohol, and other drug use; sexual behaviors that contribute to unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV infection; unhealthy dietary behaviors; physical inactivity, obesity and asthma among students.
Between graduated drivers licenses and texting bans, the dangerous habits of teen drivers are on the radar. The YRBS indicates that teens are getting the message and showing improvement toward the following safer behavior on the road:
- Since 1991, high school students who never or rarely wear seat belts has declined from 26% to 8%
- Over the last decade, riding with a driver who had been drinking alcohol during the past 30 days has declined from 40% to 24%.
- Since 1997, driving a car after drinking alcohol during the past 30 days decreased from 17% to 8%.
- One of every three (33%) students had texted or e-mailed while driving a car or other vehicle during the past 30 days
Just when you think teens are becoming more sensible, the CDC assures you that teens still like to party and put their health at risk with alcohol, drugs and smoking. Fewer high-schoolers reported drinking or binge drinking since 1999, but alcohol is still the substance of choice among teens. Underage cigarette smoking is at an all-time low, but that habit has been replaced by marijuana smoking.
- More than 1 in 3 high school students reported current alcohol use in 2011, and 1 in 5 high school students reported binge drinking.
- Marijuana use during the past 30 days decreased from 27% in 1999 to 23% in 2011, but it is now more prevalent than cigarette use during the past 30 days (23% vs. 18%).
- Since 1999, high school underage drinking has decreased from 50% to 39%
- Since 1997, binge drinking (having 5 or more drinks of alcohol in a row during the past 30 days) decreased from 33% to 22%.
-Follow Elise RambaudMarrion, @emarrion_cmn.