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Teens' risky behavior on decline, survey says

Published June 9, 2006

ATLANTA - Fewer U.S. high school students are engaging in health risk behaviors compared with their counterparts from 15 years ago, according to the 2005 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey, released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Despite an overall decrease in health risk behaviors among high school students since 1991, racial and ethnic differences continue to be evident.

Two highlights of the survey involved seat belt use and alcohol use. High school students appear to be getting the message to buckle up. The 2005 survey found only 10 percent of high school students said they rarely or never wore a seat belt, a decline from the 18 percent in 2003 and 26 percent in 1991. The percentage of students who report current alcohol use has also declined since the first survey, 43 percent in 2005 vs. 51 percent in 1991.

Other improvements seen during the past 15 years include a decline in the percentage of high school students reporting ever having sexual intercourse. In 2005, 47 percent of students said they had ever had sexual intercourse, roughly the same as in the 2003 survey, but down from 54 percent in 1991. In addition, 63 percent of sexually active students reported that they or their partner had used a condom during last sexual intercourse (same as the 2003 survey), compared with 46 percent in 1991.

Compared with white and Hispanic high school students, black high school students are least likely to use tobacco, alcohol, cocaine and other drugs, but most likely to report sexual risk behaviors and sedentary behaviors such as watching television three or more hours per day. White students are less likely to report physical fighting, sexual risk behaviors and being overweight, but more likely to engage in frequent cigarette smoking and episodic heavy drinking. Hispanic students are more likely than black or white students to report attempted suicide and the use of drugs like cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine.

[Last modified June 9, 2006, 06:37:25]

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