Sex and drug use on the decline among U.S. teens

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Are you the parent of a teen? Then a new government report might help you sleep a little easier. It found that fewer American high schoolers are having sex and using drugs.

The report drew on data from the National Youth Risk Behavior Surveys conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from 2007 through 2017.

Over this decade, the number of teens who said they’d ever had sex dropped from 47.8 percent to 39.5 percent. And teens who reported having four or more sexual partners fell from 14.9% to 9.7%, the lowest level since federal health officials from the CDC began these surveys in 1991.

As for drugs, the number of teens who reported using illegal ones dropped from 22.6 percent to 14 percent. And the number injecting illegal drugs fell from 2 to 1.5 percent.

Not all good news

But while sex and illegal drug use were on the decline, some troubling trends did emerge. A key one: Condom usage fell. In 2007, 61.5 percent of high schoolers reported using a condom the last time they had sex. In 2017, only 53.8 percent said they had.

And one in five teens said they’d been bullied at school—a percentage that didn’t budge. Also concerning:

  • In 2017, 14 percent admitted to misusing prescription opioids. That was a first-time question in the CDC’s surveys.
  • The number of young people who reported feeling persistently sad or hopeless rose from 28.5 to 31.5 percent.

Learn about more findings from the CDC report.

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