The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recently released their National Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) and the results are...mixed.

Ultimately, the study revealed that while fewer high school students are having sex and using drugs, more teens and young adults have considered suicide or are depressed than ever before.

About the National Youth Risk Behavior Survey

The YRBS collects self-reported data from nearly 4 million high school students across the country. The goal of it is to look at trends in sexual behavior, substance abuse, violence, victimization, and mental health among high school students.

National Youth Risk Behavior Survey Results

Sexual Behavior is (Mostly) Down

  • High school students who reported that they have ever had sex declined from 47.8 percent in 2007 to 39.5 percent in 2017.
  • The percent of students who reported having four or more sexual partners declined from 14.9 percent to 9.7 percent.
  • Students who were engaging in sexual activity were more likely to use hormonal birth control than in years past.
  • Unfortunately, the percentage of students who reported using a condom the last time they had sex also declined from 61.5 percent in 2007 to 53.8 percent in 2017.
  • The percentage of students who reported being forced to have sex did not significantly improve either, dropping from 7.8 percent in 2007 to 7.4 percent in 2017.

Drug Use is Down

  • The percentage of high school students who reported ever using certain illicit drugs (cocaine, inhalants, heroin, hallucinogens or ecstasy) dropped from 22.6 percent in 2007 to 14 percent in 2017.
  • The percentage who reported injecting illegal drugs dropped from two percent in 2007 to 1.5 percent in 2017.
  • 14 percent of students said they had misused prescription pain medication such as codeine, Vicodin, OxyContin or Percocet, without a prescription or differently than indicated by a doctor. Because this was the first time this question was asked, there is no data to compare it to.

Mental Health Issues are Up

  • Those who reported being bullied did not significantly decrease, dropping just 0.9 percent from 2009 to 2017.
  • The percentage of students who reported feeling sad or hopeless increased from 28.5 percent in 2007 to 31.5 percent in 2017.
  • Those who reported seriously considering attempting suicide also climbed from 14.5 percent in 2007 to 17.2 percent in 2017.