Fewer U.S. Teens Engage in Certain Risky Behaviors, But Concerns Remain

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In a recent press, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) outlined the results of the 2017 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which includes self-reported information about drug use and sexual behaviors among high school students in the United States. According to the CDC, these results are generally promising, there are several concerns.

Although the percentages of high school students who indicated in the survey that they have had sex, or that they have had four or more sexual partners are at lowest levels since the survey began in 1991, a lower percentage of young people who engage in sex also reported using condoms. Half of all new sexually transmitted infections in the U.S. occur in 15-to-24-year olds and the use of condoms can help prevent transmission of HIV and other STDs.

The percentage of students who reported ever using illicit drugs – cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines, inhalants, hallucinogens, or ecstasy – was down in the 2017 survey as well, but 14 percent of U.S. high school students reported misusing prescription opioids.

Other worrisome findings:

  • Sexual minority youth (students who identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual; or who are not sure of their sexual identity) experience significantly higher risks associated with violence, substance use, and suicide-related behaviors, than their heterosexual peers.
  • 1 in 5 students reported being bullied at school, and 1 in 10 female students and 1 in 28 male students reported having been physically forced to have sex.

  • The proportion of students reporting persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness increased to 1 in 3.

Sourced from: CDC