- Deseret News - Thursday, August 7, 2014

Nearly a third of high school students drink regularly, a quarter had a physical fight in the last year and more than a third are sexually active, according to a national biennial survey of youth and the risks they take.

Older kids, 15-19, face many behavior-related negative health consequences and social problems, including sexually transmitted disease or unintended pregnancy. They may live with or die from consequences related to their tobacco, alcohol and drug use; unhealthy diets; physical inactivity and whether they brawl or carry weapons.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says four causes lead to 70 percent of all deaths for those ages 10 to 24: motor vehicle crashes, other unintended injuries, homicide and suicide.

Every two years the CDC conducts the “Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance” survey in schools to create a statistical portrait of what teens are doing. The 2013 survey asked about 104 health-risk behaviors, as well as questions regarding excess weight and whether those surveyed had asthma. Students were polled in 42 states and 21 large urban school districts to create a nationally representative sample.

The survey found that in the 30 days before the survey:

— 41 percent of those who drove had texted or emailed while driving

— 35 percent had consumed alcohol

— 23 percent used marijuana

In the past year:

— 22 percent were offered, sold or given drugs at school

— 20 percent were bullied on school grounds

— 8 percent attempted suicide.

Experts call teen risk behavior a canary in the cavern, warning adults that something is amiss.

“It’s important to pay attention any time you have somebody acting out, either by being involved sexually or using drugs at an earlier than expected age because it’s an indicator that something else is going on in their lives,” said Karen Khaleghi, co-founder of Creative Care, an addiction treatment facility in Malibu, Calif.

Over time

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