Friday, June 13th, 2014
Fewer American teenagers are having sex or smoking cigarettes, according to new figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but public messaging efforts on the dangers of texting while driving and healthy eating remain largely ineffective in curbing dangerous behaviors. More from NBC News:
The latest federal look at teenage behavior is reassuring and suggests that some safety messages are getting through to American youth.
On the downside, kids are fatter than ever before and just a third are eating anywhere near as many fruits and vegetables as they need to stay healthy. And less than a third are getting enough sleep.
And a very troubling new statistic shows that more than 40 percent of teenagers who drive cars admit to having texted or emailed while driving recently.
But on the whole, it’s a snapshot of progress. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which organizes the every-other-year survey, was especially pleased about the drop in smoking.
“I think it’s really encouraging that we’re seeing the lowest cigarette smoking rate ever,” CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden told NBC News.
“We’ve actually reached the goal that the nation set for ourselves for 2020 early. So that’s one of the most positive trends that we see here — down to 15.7 percent — less than one out of six kids in our high schools is smoking. That’s great news.”
Image: Texting while driving, via Shutterstock
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Child Health, New Research, Parenting News, Trends
Wednesday, November 13th, 2013
Teenagers–especially heterosexual teens–who are either bullied or who are both bullies and victims of bullying are more likely to exhibit risky sexual behaviors, a new Boston University study has found. More from Reuters:
“Some previous research has found that aggression and sexual risk-taking are related, so it was not entirely surprising that bullies and bully-victims reported more sexual risk-taking than their peers,” Melissa K. Holt said.
What’s more, some research has found that kids and teens cope with being bullied by using drugs or alcohol, for instance. Acting out sexually may be another way young people respond to bullying, Holt told Reuters Health.
She led the research at the Boston University School of Education.
The study included almost 9,000 high school students from 24 schools who completed a survey about bullying and sexual behavior. “Risky sex” was defined as casual sex and sex while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
About 80 percent of the students said they had not bullied other kids or been bullied themselves.
Seven percent of those teens reported ever having casual sex with someone they had just met or didn’t know very well. And 12 percent said they had had sex under the influence.
The numbers were similar for students who said they had been bullied, but hadn’t bullied others.
But among the six percent of kids who claimed to have acted as bullies, one quarter had engaged in casual sex and just over a third said they’d had sex while drunk or high.
Another six percent of students said they had both acted as bullies and been the victims of bulling. Of those teens, 20 percent had had casual sex and 23 percent reported having sex under the influence.
The researchers accounted for other childhood experiences that might lead to sexual risk-taking, but the link to bullying remained.
Image: Bully, via Shutterstock
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Child Health, New Research, Parenting News
Monday, January 7th, 2013
A growing genre of books being called “new adult” has bookstores wondering whether the steamy stories belong on “adult” or “young adult” shelves. MSNBC.com reports:
The book industry is in a post-“Fifty Shades of Grey” state of mind, and some publishers and authors say they won’t be shy about including steamier bits for older teens in a budding genre labeled “new adult” fiction.
The category contains stories for the reader who might be too old for “Twilight” but not quite ready for “Fifty Shades.” A typical “new adult” heroine is an 18 to 24-year-old coming to terms with the trials and tribulations of young adult life away from the security of home. Several of these stories have already found success as e-books or on sites like GoodReads.com, which has over 20,000 titles on its new adult “shelf.”
“It’s about that time in your life when you’re trying to assert your maturity and forcing yourself to grow up against the odds,” Cora Carmack, author of the new adult novel “Losing It,” told TODAY.com.
And then there’s the sex.
“Young adult has a certain perspective to it. If there is sex, it’s behind closed doors,” Pamela Spengler-Jaffee, a spokesperson for HarperCollins, told TODAY.com. “New adult is going to help teachers classify books that have that same heightened level of emotion, but with an open door policy.”
Image: Teenager reading, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, November 27th, 2012
The American Academy of Pediatrics is revising its policy on contraception, now recommending that pediatricians should discuss safe sex and contraceptive options including the “morning-after” pill Plan B with teenaged patients and their parents. Further, the AAP is recommending pediatricians prescribe a “just-in-case” Plan B prescription teens can carry in their wallets. More from CNN.com:
The United States has one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy among developed countries. Nearly 80% of teen pregnancies are unplanned, a result of contraception failure or nonuse, according to the AAP.
The use of emergency contraception has been around since the 1970s, when doctors often advised patients to double up on their regular birth control pills in a method called “Yuzpe.” Since then several products have been approved for use by prescription and over-the-counter. Yet lead author Dr. Cora Beurner said there are still many people who don’t know about emergency contraception or have unfounded fears about using it.
Emergency contraception is designed to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex. It works by inhibiting ovulation and disrupting the production of key cells needed in a woman’s body to conceive. It works best if taken up to 24 hours after intercourse, although it lowers pregnancy risk if taken within 120 hours (five days). It will not work if you are already pregnant.
Emergency contraception is available with a prescription for all patients and available over-the-counter for women over the age of 17. The pills cost around $80.
Image: Teenage girl with doctor, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, November 1st, 2012
Teenagers who use smartphones are more likely to engage in sexual activities than their peers who do not have the devices, a new study presented to the American Public Health Association has found. The reason may be as simple as convenience; smartphones enable teens to more easily arrange sexual encounters. MSNBC.com has more:
Smartphones likely aren’t directly causing risky teen sex, said study researcher Eric Rice, of the University of Southern California’s School of Social Work in Los Angeles. Rather, smartphones may make it easier for teens to arrange sexual encounters, Rice said.
“It’s a tool through which this sort of behavior can happen,” Rice said.
While parents have come up with strategies to monitor the online behavior of their kids on computers, “I don’t know that we’ve thought through quite as clearly what it means for teens to have the Internet on their phones 24 hours a day,” Rice said.
Rice said sex education programs should start to include discussions regarding the risks of seeking sex online. In addition, parents should use this as an opportunity to begin a discussion with their teen about sexual health and use of technology, he said.
“I don’t want parents to freak out,” Rice said.
This new research follows a recent study that found that teens who “sext” or send sexually suggestive text messages, are 7 times more likely to be sexually active.
Image: Teen on smartphone, via Shutterstock
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