Good News About Teens and Risky Behavior
In the furor that resulted, rightly, from LiveAction’s revelation that a Planned Parenthood staffer gave what she thought was a 15-year-old girl a graphic personal endorsement of sadomasochism, it is understandable that some good news about high school students’ habits may have been overlooked. The results of the CDC’s 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Survey are in, and they have implications for both the nation and the state of Connecticut (this is not the same survey on which we reported in March. To view survey questions, click here; to learn more about the CDC’s methodology, including question development and limitations of the survey, click here).
The Hartford Courant reports that smoking and drinking among Connecticut high school students are at a 17-year low. Also:
The number of students who reported ever having had sexual intercourse fell slightly, to 41.1 percent, in Connecticut. Nationally, the number also slid, to 46.8 percent.
“It’s encouraging that high school students are making better health choices such as not fighting, not smoking, and not having sex,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden.
From the time I first became aware of the YRBS, I have found that it provides a refreshing counter-narrative to the popular idea that the sulky, secretive, hormone-crazed beast that materialized in your house at approximately the same time your sweet 11-year-old mysteriously disappeared cannot possibly be expected either to understand the value of delayed gratification or to modify his or her behavior. The quote above shows a clear majority, as well as including an expert opinion, and may be enough to help a young person who is struggling to resist peer pressure.
In their hurry to take credit for lower teen pregnancy and abortion rates, the Guttmacher Institute –a.k.a. Planned Parenthood’s research arm– ignores such trends. They’re not good for business. At LifeNews.com, Dr. Michael New eviscerates Guttmacher’s analysis, even using their own studies.
Is There Bad News?
Unfortunately, there are clouds in this blue sky. Here’s a particularly troubling statistic identified by the Courant:
High school students who reported being physically forced to have sexual intercourse jumped a statistically significant 2 percentage points, to 9.2 percent. Nationally, 7.3 percent of students reported being forced to have sex.
Jillian Gilchrest, public policy director of Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services, noted that the survey only reflects the responses of youths who felt safe to disclose that they had been forced to have sex.
I was instantly reminded of a passage from chastity educator Jason Evert’s book If You Really Loved Me (pg. 30):
A poll in Rhode Island asked seventeen hundred students in grades six through nine if it is OK for a guy to force a young woman to have sex if the two of them have dated for six months or more. Two-thirds of the guys said this was acceptable–and half of the girls did as well! 86 percent of the young men said that it was OK to rape your wife, and 24 percent said that it was OK to rape a date if you spent “a lot of money” on her. Modern culture tells us that if something feels good and we want it, we should have it. Go ahead. Gorge yourself. But when this mentality seeps into the minds of the youth, we end up with grade-schoolers who don’t see a problem with rape.
That book was published in 2008. I wonder how we’re doing now?
Better to Light One Candle…
Let’s not lose sight of the dark areas. Still, a steady diet of bad news is no good for a Gospel (Good News) people. Be encouraged by the positive trends, publicize, and celebrate them!