American teenagers are having less sex and doing fewer drugs than they ever have since 1991, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began surveying their habits.
The percentage of teens having sex has dropped to 40 percent from 48 percent a year ago. And the those who have had at least four sexual partners has decreased to 9.7 percent from 15 percent the prior year.
High schoolers’ reports of using illicit drugs — such as cocaine, inhalants, heroin, meth, hallucinogens or ecstasy — was 14 percent in 2017, compared to 22.6 percent a decade ago.
Additionally, about 9 percent of teens reported being smokers, down from 27 percent in 1991.
Other Risky Activities
Although all of that may seem like an improvement, the CDC is still warning parents that many high school age individuals are still engaging in activity that can result in sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy. Among those who are sexually active, only 53.8 percent reported using a condom the last time they had sex.
Just a decade ago, condom use among high schoolers was around 62 percent. The drop in condom use overall has CDC officials concerned about a potential rise in STDs and HIV. In 2016 alone, more than 1,600 individuals ages 15 to 19 were diagnosed with HIV.
In addition to increased reports of teens contracting STDs, there’s also been an increase in reports of teens being forced to have sex. In fact, one in 10 girls and one in 28 boys report they’ve been forced to have sexual contact.
Good and Bad
“Today’s youth are making better decisions about their health than just a decade ago,” Dr. Jonathan Mermin, director of the CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS Prevention told NBC News. “But, some experiences, such as physical and sexual violence, are outside their control and continue at painfully high levels. Their experiences today have powerful implications for their lives tomorrow.”
Because of these factors, 31.5 percent of teens reported having persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness, compared to 28.5 percent in 2007.
“A significantly higher percentage of Hispanic students (33.7 percent) experienced persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness than white students (30.2 percent) or black students (29.2 percent),” the report read.
More teens have also considered suicide. “The percentage of female students who made a suicide plan increased significantly from 2007 (13.4 percent) through 2017 (17.1 percent),” the report read.
Only 9 percent of boys planned suicide. Nine percent of girls actually attempted suicide, and 5 percent of boys attempted to end their life.
It’s possible that both social media, the invention of the smartphones, and the general lack of everyday human connection is impacting the way teenagers are seeing the world in negative ways.
Collecting this information will help CDC officials track students’ sexual activity and launch new prevention programs.
The agency provides funding to 18 states and Washington D.C. for assistance and educations.
Readers, what do you think about the latest CDC report on teens?
- Heavy Use of Social Media Linked to Mental Illness, Multiple Studies Confirm
- Strong High School Friendships Could Have a Long-Lasting Impact on Your Mental Health
- Can the DASH Diet Cut the Risk of Depression?
- Teens Quitting Traditional Tobacco, But Triple Percentage Increase in E-Cig Use
- Over 1 Billion Teenagers and Young Adults at Risk for Hearing Loss
If you enjoy reading our blog posts and would like to try your hand at blogging, we have good news for you; you can do exactly that on Saving Advice. Just click here to get started.