By Stacy M. Brown | NNPA
(NNPA) – The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shared information from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS), showing that young Americans face increasing health risks daily.
According to the research, young people are dealing with various difficulties, including mental health, aggression, and poor health practices.
They are also viewing the definition of sex differently.
The CDC released data to identify specific risk factors, develop interventions, and gain the support of families and youth.
Data from around the country revealed that teenagers are battling suicidal ideation, bullying, dating violence, sexual assault, and poor nutrition and exercise habits.
For example, the percentage of children who spent more than two hours a day watching TV or playing video games climbed from 14.9% in 2013 to 55.5% in 2021.
Furthermore, 23.5% of youth got eight or more hours of sleep on a typical school night, and only 21.7% got 60 minutes or more of physical activity daily.
The study found that the percentage of young people who text while driving was also significant, with 47% of young people engaged in the practice.
Regarding mental health and suicide, the statistics revealed that 41.5% of youngsters felt gloomy or despairing nearly every day for two weeks or more, a considerable increase from 33% in 2017.
Female and homosexual, lesbian, and bisexual students were more likely to consider suicide than their male or heterosexual counterparts.
The data show that from 12.6% in 2007 to 6.1% in 2021, fewer young people reported having their boyfriend or girlfriend hit, slap, or physically hurt them.
However, 20.6% of young people received abuse verbally or emotionally from someone they were dating or going out with, and 7.7% of young people were physically forced to engage in sexual activity when they did not want to.
The YRBSS survey is done at high schools nationwide every other year.
For years, research has shown a fall in the rates of sex among American high school students.
The trend reportedly has continued, unsurprisingly, in the first years of the pandemic.
According to the survey, 30% of teens in 2021 reported having sex, down from 38% in 2019 and a significant reduction from three decades before, when more than half of kids reported having sex.
According to Associated Press research, for today’s youth, the dialogue about sexuality is shifting from a binary to a spectrum, as are the types of sex they are having.
While the language of sex is changing, the key question on the CDC poll has remained the same since the government agency began its biannual survey in 1991: Have you “ever had sexual intercourse?”
“Honestly, that question is a little laughable,” says Kay, 18, of Lansing, Michigan, who identifies as LGBTQ and attends a public high school.
“There’s probably a lot of teenagers who are like, ‘No, I’ve never had sexual intercourse, but I’ve had other kinds of sex.’”
The Associated Press said it agreed to use teenagers’ first or middle names out of fear of retaliation or backlash at school, at home, and on social media for speaking about their peers’ sex lives and LGBTQ+ relationships.
Several experts told the AP that the CDC findings could indicate a shift in how teen sexuality is evolving, with gender fluidity becoming more widespread and stigma associated with not being heterosexual decreasing.
They refer to another finding in this year’s research, which discovered that the proportion of high school students who identify as heterosexual had declined to around 75%, down from over 89% in 2015, when the CDC began asking about sexual orientation.
Meanwhile, the proportion of people who identified as homosexual, gay, or bisexual increased to 15%, up from 8% in 2015.
“I just wonder, if youth were in the room when the questions were being created, how they would be worded differently,” said Taryn Gal, executive director of the Michigan Organization on Adolescent Sexual Health.