A nationwide survey of teenagers in the United States has revealed a growth in fear and despair among them, with one in seven admitting to the misuse of prescription drugs. Since 2007, there has been a rise in the number of teenagers reporting feelings of dejection and despair. Suicidal tendency and absenteeism in school have gone up because of the fear of bullying and violence. The trend has been notable in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in large schools.
Countrywide, one out of five students reported facing bullying at school, one in 10 females and one in 28 male students reported having been subjected to forced sexual activity. Dr. Jonathan Mermin of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which conducted the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, said that the life of an adolescent can be challenging. However, a huge number of students admitting to persistent feeling of hopelessness and 17 percent contemplating suicide tell the sad state of affairs.
In 2007, 28 percent of teens reported to have suicidal feelings, which climbed to 31 percent in 2017. Similarly, 14 percent of teens made suicide plans in 2017 as against 11 percent in 2007. The poll, conducted every two years, involved 15,000 high school students across 39 states. It asks questions pertaining to a broad range of attitudes and activities.
There were some positive observations also. Compared to a decade ago, fewer adolescents reported indulging in sexual activity, consuming alcohol or taking drugs such as marijuana, heroin, and cocaine. Since the question associated with prescription opioid was requested for the first time, the investigators couldn’t tell if the one in seven exhibited an increase or a decline.
The executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors and a social worker, David Harvey, said that no matter the absence of a comparison, these figures indicate that opioids has to be contributing to the lesser explored impact on the lives of adolescents.
Harvey pointed out that in 2007, at least 62 percent of adolescents reported having used condoms the last time they had a sex compared to 54 percent of teens in 2017. This decline along with the use of prescription drugs signals towards a teenager’s susceptibility to STDs such as HIV and Syphilis. As many as 39 percent of pupils had sex in 2017 compared to 48 percent in 2007.
There was also a decrease in the proportion of pupils encountering sexual relationship violence from 10 percent in 2013 to 7 percent in 2017. This, together with a decrease in the consumption of alcohol and drugs, represented the wiser decisions made by the students. The experts suggested that family support, especially the parental attention can make a lot of difference in a teenager’s life. Further, an increased access to mental health and substance abuse resources can also earn a lot of difference. Schools can contribute by offering coping skills and bystander intervention training.
Among the LGBT adolescents, there was increased incidence of risky behavior as their sense of physical and emotional well-being is threatened. They also reported having missed school because of their concerns regarding their own security.
Dealing with the double whammy
Teens are impressionable. They’re at a juncture where they can fall prey to drugs easily which can have an impact on their mental health. To the contrary, they could resort to addictive substances to handle their mental issues.