Findings of a new government survey have revealed a seemingly tamer generation of teens. Researchers from the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that fewer high school students engage in sex and drugs in 2017.
The rate marks the lowest reported since the National Youth Risk Behavior Survey started in 1991. The news, however, is not all good. The findings, which were released on Thursday, also show that teenagers today continue to face other challenges.
Risky Behaviors, Bullying And Violence
The survey found that teens still engage in other risky behaviors. Researchers found that 39.2 percent of high school students who drove a car had texted or emailed while driving. Nearly 9 percent had smoked cigarettes and 13.2 percent had used an electronic vapor product during the 30 days before the survey.
Many are at risk of contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, as well as become victims of violence.
More teens today do not use condom to prevent unwanted pregnancy or STDs. One in five students reported they were bullied at school. One in 10 female students, and one in 28 male students claim to have been physically forced to have sex.
An increasing number of teens feel hopeless and sad.
Depression And Suicide
The percentage of students who reported having persistent feelings of hopelessness or sadness is now one in three, marking an increase from just 28.5 percent in 2007 to 31. 5 percent in 2017. Suicide attempts also pose a concern as more students were making suicide plans.
"We can't yet declare success when so many young people are getting HIV and STDs, and experiencing disturbingly high rates of substance use, violence, and suicide," said CDC Director Robert Redfield.
It is not clear why more teens are depressed and are attempting suicide, but experts suggest that social media and growing lack of connectedness could play a role.
Identifying Signs Of Teen Depression
The CDC said that family and school can help teens with the challenges they face. A crucial step in helping depressed kids is to recognize signs of depression.
Feelings of sadness, or hopelessness, anger or irritability, poor school performance, withdrawal from friends and family, changes in sleeping and eating habits, lack of energy and unexplained aches and pains, could be signs a teenager is suffering from depression.
Parents can help their kids by encouraging social connection, getting their child engaged in physical exercise, and seeking professional help.