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News About Teen Behavior

May 17, 2013  |  Falmouth Enterprise

By Dr. Michael Bihari

As a pediatrician I am concerned about the health and well-being of our youth. To make sure that I keep on top of the latest news, I subscribe to several newsletters from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Library of Medicine. The following have recently come across my desktop: 

Texting While Driving Linked to Other Risky Behaviors

According to a study in the journal Pediatrics, approximately 45 percent of 8,505 high school students said they have texted while driving at least once over the past month, while nearly 12 percent reported doing it on a daily basis. Researchers noted that these teens had a greater likelihood of engaging in other risky activities such as driving after drinking alcohol and not wearing seat belts.

Texting while driving increases the risk of a crash by 23 times, and many experts say texting while driving is more dangerous than driving while intoxicated. Interestingly, the study also found that teens who texted while driving were more likely to engage in other risky behaviors, such as drinking and driving, having unprotected sex, and using indoor tanning devices.

Parents Not Much Better

Results from a different study suggests that adults may be just as bad as their teens when it comes to driving while distracted. Researchers surveyed more than 600 parents to find out what distractions they face while driving with their kids, whether they use age-appropriate child restraints and if they'd ever been in an accident.

Nearly 90% of the parents admitted that they'd been distracted by technology while driving their kids at least once during the past month. Not surprisingly, those who engaged in distracting behaviors were more likely to report having been in a car accident, as well. 

Drug, Alcohol Abuse More Likely Among High School Dropouts

High school seniors who dropped out of school before graduating were more likely to drink, smoke cigarettes and use marijuana and other illegal drugs, according to a new report from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The researchers said their findings should prompt communities to develop strategies to keep teens in school and prevent problems with substance abuse. The study also found that more than 31 percent of seniors who didn't receive their diploma used drugs, compared with about 18 percent of students who had finished high school.

According to a SAMHSA spokesperson, "The fact that nearly one in seven students drops out of high school has enormous public health implications for our nation. Dropouts are at increased risk of substance abuse, which is particularly troubling given that they are also at greater risk of poverty, not having health insurance, and other health problems. We have to do everything we can to keep youth in school so they can go on to lead healthy, productive lives, free from substance abuse."

16 Percent of U.S. High Schoolers Victims of Cyberbullying

Researchers found that one in six of the students said they had been a target of cyberbullying within the past 12 months.The study also found that many high school students spend hours a day playing video games or using a computer for something other than schoolwork.

Girls were more than twice as likely to be targeted than boys, about 22 percent versus 11 percent. According to a news release from the American Academy of Pediatrics.  "Electronic bullying of high school students threatens the self-esteem, emotional well-being and social standing of youth at a very vulnerable stage of their development.

Although teenagers generally embrace being connected to the Web and each other 24/7, we must recognize that these new technologies carry with them the potential to traumatize youth in new and different ways. As technology continues to advance and computers become that much more accessible, cyberbullying will continue to grow as a hurtful weapon against kids and teens," 

Often parents have no idea what's going on. 

Childhood Bullying Can Leave Lifelong Scars

Children who are bullied often carry the scars of their experience into adulthood and suffer from anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts, a new study indicates.

Even bullies themselves are at risk for psychological problems when they grow up, the researchers added. And children who have been both perpetrator and victim suffer the worst as adults.

According to researchers at Duke University, "We found kids that had been just bullied in childhood seemed to be at an elevated risk for a number of different anxiety disorders when they were adults. Kids that had been bullied and also bullied other kids seemed to be in the worst lot. They had thoughts of depression and hurting themselves when they were adults. They have the worst long-term outcomes."


MedLine Plus-Bullying is an excellent source of information about bullying. The site provides access to information from reliable sources that are accurate and up-to-date. 

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