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Jim Liebelt Christian Blog and Commentary

Jim Liebelt

Jim Liebelt's Blog

*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on HealthDay.

Sex is everywhere in the media, and so you may be convinced that today's teens are always looking to "hook-up." But new federal research says it's just not so.

Instead, the study found that most teenagers in high school aren't sexually active.

"The myth is that every kid in high school is having sex, and it's not true," noted Dr. Cora Breuner, a professor of pediatrics at Seattle Children's Hospital, who reviewed the findings.

"It's less than half, and it's been less than half for more than 10 years," she said.

The study found that only 42 percent of girls and 44 percent of boys aged 15 to 19 reported having sex at least once. And Breuner said that finding is nothing new. Going back to 2002, fewer than half of older teens told researchers that they are sexually active, federal data show.

Further, most teens who choose to go all the way wind up losing their virginity to someone they're dating, the survey shows.

Three out of four girls said they were "going steady" with their first sexual partner, and a little more than half of boys said the same. By comparison, only 2 percent of girls and 7 percent of boys said they lost their virginity to someone they just met.

"There's this myth that kids hook up quite a bit and have sex with someone they literally just met," Breuner said. "This dispels that myth, that our teenagers are having sex with people they don't know."

The statistics come from in-person interviews conducted with more than 4,000 teenagers across the United States between 2011 and 2015. The survey was funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Back in 1988, 51 percent of girls and 60 percent of boys between 15 and 19 said they were sexually active, but those numbers dropped to today's levels after word spread of a sexually transmitted disease that could kill, Breuner said.

Sexually active teens are more apt to use protection these days. Nine out of 10 teenagers reported using some method of birth control the last time they had sex, compared with 83 percent of teens back in 2002.

The new study was published in the CDC's National Health Statistics Report.

Source: HealthDay

*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on PsychCentral.

Childhood bullying may lead to long-lasting health consequences, impacting psychosocial risk factors for cardiovascular health well into adulthood, according to a recent study.

Published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, the study tracked a group of more than 300 American men from first grade through their early 30s. The study’s findings show that being a victim of bullying and being a bully were both linked to negative outcomes in adulthood.

Led by psychology researcher Karen A. Matthews of the University of Pittsburgh, the study found that men who were bullies during childhood were more likely to smoke cigarettes and use marijuana, to experience stressful circumstances, and to be aggressive and hostile more than 20 years later.

Men who were bullied as children, on the other hand, tended to have more financial difficulties, felt more unfairly treated by others, and were less optimistic about their future two decades later.

The outcomes are especially critical because they put the men at higher risk for poor health, including serious cardiovascular issues, later in life, according to the researchers.

“The long-term effects of bullying involvement are important to establish,” Matthews said. “Most research on bullying is based on addressing mental health outcomes, but we wished to examine the potential impact of involvement in bullying on physical health and psychosocial risk factors for poor physical health.”

For the study, the researchers recruited participants from the Pittsburgh Youth Study, a longitudinal study of 500 boys enrolled in Pittsburgh public schools in 1987 and 1988, when the boys were in the first grade. More than half of the boys in the original study were black and nearly 60 percent of the boys’ families received public financial assistance, such as food stamps.

Along with regular assessments on psychosocial, behavioral, and biological risk factors for poor health, researchers collected data from children, parents, and teachers on bullying behavior when the boys were 10 to 12 years old.

For the new study, Matthews and her research team successfully recruited more than 300 of the original study participants, who completed questionnaires on psychosocial health factors, such as stress levels, health history, diet and exercise, and socioeconomic status. Around 260 of the men came into the lab for blood draws, cardiovascular and inflammation assessments, and height and weight measurements.

The study found childhood bullies and bullying victims had increased psychosocial risk factors for poor physical health.

Source: PsychCentral

*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on CNN.

The number of high school and middle school students who use e-cigarettes has decreased for the first time according to a recent report by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. E-cigarette use among this group has only been tracked since 2011. Previous reports showed increases in usage. Use of other tobacco products has decreased as well.

The new report analyzes the results of National Youth Tobacco Surveys from 2011 to 2016. These annual surveys were given to American middle and high school students who voluntarily filled out the pencil and paper questionnaire based on their behavior in the 30 previous days.

And the results show that from 2015 to 2016, the rate of high-schoolers using e-cigarettes, along with hookahs and combustible tobacco products, dropped.

For middle-schoolers, rates of e-cigarette use dropped as well.

"This report has some good news, and it has some bad news, when it comes to youth tobacco product use in the United States," said Brian King, deputy director for research translation in the CDC's Office of Smoking and Healthand one of the report's authors. "The good news is that we've seen a marked decline in the use of tobacco products among our nation's youth. However, the bad news is that we still have about 3.9 million US youth who are using tobacco products."

Although the results show a downward trend from 2015 to 2016, there wasn't an overall decrease in tobacco product use from 2011 to 2016. That's because more kids and teens started to use e-cigarettes and hookah over the past five years, the report said. And that still leaves 20% of surveyed high school students and 7% of surveyed middle school students using tobacco in 2016.

The CDC is attributing the decreased numbers in the new report in part to strategies that aim to prevent and control tobacco use. These include the Food and Drug Administration's well-known education campaign The Real Cost, which includes television commercials showing the toll that smoking can take on people. Other policies have included restricting youth access to tobacco in stores and implementing smoke-free policies.

Source: CNN