U.S. teens generally reducing risky behavior says CDC
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
On June 4, a report published by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that in the past 16 years high school students have become less likely to engage in health risk-related behaviors such as having sex and taking drugs. However, the CDC found that Hispanic students were less likely to have reduced risky behavior when compared to Black and White students in several key areas.
The National Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) is run by the CDC every two years, and is an anonymous, self-administered survey of students in grades 9 to 12. In the 2007 YRBS, over 14,000 students were surveyed from across 44 U.S. states, 5 territories, and several individual school districts. The combined statistics used results from 39 states and 22 large urban school districts.
The survey showed that males were more likely than females to engage in most behaviors involving violence or risk of unintentional injury, including driving while drinking alcohol, carrying a weapon, and being involved in a physical fight, although females were more likely to have contemplated or attempted suicide. Males were also more likely to have smoked tobacco or marijuana, engaged in heavy drinking, or engaged in sexual intercourse, while females were more likely to have fasted for 24 hours or more, vomited or taken laxatives in order to lose weight.
While the proportions of White and Black students who had ever had sexual intercourse, and who had had sex with four or more partners in their lifetimes, all dropped over the period 1991-2007, there was no change in either of these statistics for the Hispanic population. Compared to their counterparts in the 1990s however, Hispanic students in 2007 were found to be more likely to have used a condom during their most recent sexual intercourse, and less likely to have consumed drugs such as cigarettes, alcohol and marijuana.
Hispanic students were more likely than White or Black students to go without food for 24 hours to lose weight, to take drugs such as heroin or cocaine, to drink alcohol on school property, and to have avoided school on occasion because of safety concerns.
In comparison with previous YRBS results, the survey found that the percentage of students who had ever had sexual intercourse decreased from 54.1% in 1991 to 47.8% in 2007, with a comparable decrease in the percentage who had had four or more sexual partners, from 18.7% to 14.9%. Decreases were also found in the percentage of students who had attempted suicide, who rode in a car with a driver who had been drinking alcohol, and who had smoked marijuana in the past month, but an increase in the percentage who had avoided school on occasion because of safety concerns (from 4.4% in 1993 to 5.5% in 2007).
"We are pleased that more high school students today are doing things that will help them stay healthy and avoiding things that put their health in danger. Unfortunately we are not seeing that same progress among Hispanic teens for certain risk factors," said Howell Wechsler, Ed.D., MPH, director of CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health.
- "Drug, alcohol, tobacco abuse rising among California teens" — Wikinews, May 2, 2006
Press Release: "Nation’s High School Students Showing Overall Improvements in Health-Related Behaviors" — Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, June 4, 2008