Since 1991, The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has surveyed teens every two years in order to identify trends in risky adolescent behaviors. The results of the 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Survey have recently been released. Highlights of the current survey:
Results from the 2011 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) show that significant progress has been made in improving behaviors related to motor vehicle safety. Since 1991, the percentage of high school students who never or rarely wear seat belts has declined from 26% to 8%, and the percentage of high school students who rode with a driver who had been drinking alcohol during the past 30 days has declined from 40% to 24%. In addition, since 1997, the percentage of high school students who had driven a car when they had been drinking alcohol during the past 30 days decreased from 17% to 8%.
Though notable progress also has been made in reducing alcohol use, alcohol remains the most commonly used drug among high school students. Since 1999 the percentage of high school students who drank alcohol during the past 30 days decreased from 50% to 39% and, since 1997, the percentage who reported binge drinking (having 5 or more drinks of alcohol in a row during the past 30 days) decreased from 33% to 22%. Yet, more than 1 in 3 high school students reported current alcohol use in 2011, and 1 in 5 high school students reported binge drinking. Furthermore, marijuana use during the past 30 days decreased from 27% in 1999 to 23% in 2011, but it is now more prevalent than cigarette use during the past 30 days (23% vs. 18%).
The 2011 National YRBS showed for the first time that 1 of every 3 (33%) students had texted or e-mailed while driving a car or other vehicle during the past 30 days, and 1 of every 6 (16%) had been electronically bullied through e-mail, chat rooms, instant messaging, Web sites, or texting during the past 12 months—documenting unsafe practices and a troubling public health issue.
Other notable findings:
Lifetime alcohol use (at least one drink of alcohol): 70.8%, down from 72.5% in 2009.
Lifetime marijuana use (at least one use of marijuana): 39.9%, up from 36.8% in 2009.
Lifetime cigarette smoking (those who have tried cigarette smoking): 44.7%, down from 46.3% in 2009.
Have had sexual intercourse: 47.4%, up from 46% in 2009.
Seriously considered suicide during the 12 months before the survey: 15.8%, up from 13.8% in 2009.
Attempted suicide during the 12 months before the survey: 7.8%, up from 6.3% in 2009.
Rarely or never wore a seat belt: 7.7%, down from 9.7% in 2009.
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About Jim Liebelt
Jim is Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University. Jim has over 25 years of experience as a youth and family ministry specialist, and has been on the HomeWord staff since 1998. He has served over the years as a pastor, author, youth ministry trainer, adjunct college instructor and speaker. Jim’s culture blog and parenting articles appear on HomeWord.com. Jim is a contributing author of culture and parenting articles to Crosswalk.com. Jim and his wife Jenny live in Olympia, WA.
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