There are some very positive trends going on among teens. That's according to the CDC 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which examines youth and their engagement in risky behaviors,
The survey sampled public and private schools with students in at least one of the grades ninth through 12th in the 50 states (4,138 in Tennessee) and the District of Columbia.
The results indicate:
- Fewer teens are drinking.
- Teen smoking is at its lowest level since 1991.
- Less teens are involved in physical fighting.
- The percentage of teens that have never had sex has dramatically increased.
Since 1991, the percentage of currently sexually active high school students has decreased from 38 percent to 30 percent in 2015. Even more interesting is the drop in the number of teens who have ever had sex, falling from 54 percent in 1991 to 41 percent in 2015. That means nearly six in 10 teens are choosing to wait for sex – the highest percentage to date. This news follows a press release from the CDC in April stating that teen birth rates are now at an all-time low.
More teens in every high school grade are waiting for sex in greater numbers than ever before.
While this is great news concerning current high school students, a whole new target audience is approaching the high school years. It is imperative that they learn healthy relationship skills and understand the significance of the success sequence: Finish high school at a minimum, get a job and have children after getting married. Research indicates that the success sequence dramatically reduces the chance that youth will live in poverty as adults.
What can you do to help your teen?
- Model a healthy relationship.
- Start an ongoing conversation, preferably before they enter middle school. Your tween may be naïve, but the people around him/her are not. You are the best one to educate and influence them when it comes to relationships.
- Don’t assume your teen will just figure it out when it comes to dating. The world is a complicated place with confusing messages.
- Talk about how to identify healthy and unhealthy behaviors. For example, healthy relationships don’t involve physical or emotional abuse. Healthy relationships empower people versus exerting control over them. Healthy relationships encourage individuals to grow and be themselves. When you see examples of healthy relationships, point them out.
- Monitor involvement on social media. Some people in cyberspace are counting on your tween/teen to think they are invincible.
- Have an open door policy when it comes to answering questions about relationships. If you don’t know the answer, investigate it together. Make sure your child knows there are no dumb questions.
- Educate your child about how to protect themselves from sexual assault. This includes the danger of excessive drinking, why going to places in groups is a good thing, and why they should not accept a drink from anyone, even a friend.
The trend indicated by the CDC report is great news. It means fewer teens are spending time worrying about pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections. It also means they can actually focus on their future while enjoying their teen years.