The number of high school teens smoking cigarettes is at an all-time low. Teens are having less sex and are waiting till a later age. The rate of violence is on the decline as well, as students are getting into fewer fights. Before you restore your faith in millennials, however, check out these new stats.
41% of students that drove in the past month reported texting and driving at least once. The number of students spending long stretches of time staring at their tiny computer, phone and tablet screens doubled in the past 20 years. While teens are having less sex, the sex they are having is riskier, as condom use declined in the past decade. Sugary drinks are taking the stage as one of the biggest culprits of today's teenage obesity problem, which has been steadily increasing since 1999.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducted its National Youth Risk Behavior Survey and released the above results on Thursday. The data showed a little bit of the good and some of the bad. While the numbers tell a story, they don't explain much.
"It's not too much to ask that every kid born in this country reaches adulthood without an infection that they will have to deal with for the rest of their life, without nicotine addiction and at a healthy weight," says CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden. Despite prevention services and interventions, the upward trends and consistently high risk statistics are frustrating without logical explanations.
The urgent matter of texting while driving and the upward trend in this fatal habit is only a recently added statistic in the CDC's survey. For unknown reasons, South Dakota surveyed an eye-opening 61% of students that reported texting while diving in the last month alone.
"Our youth are out future. We need to invest in programs that help them make healthy choices so they live long, healthy lives," says Frieden, who believes the only way to reduce risky behaviors in teens is to combine solutions. No one solution is effective in combating the discouraging statistics.
Meanwhile, we can rejoice in the progress that was made in the past year. The reductions in cigarette use, sex and violence at least present a positive outlook on the fights against lung cancer, teen pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases and bullying.