The sky remains in its non-falling state

The sky still isn’t falling, especially with respect to kids:

Problem: Priority health-risk behaviors contribute to the leading causes of morbidity and mortality among youth and adults. Population-based data on these behaviors at the national, state, and local levels can help monitor the effectiveness of public health interventions designed to protect and promote the health of youth nationwide.

Reporting Period Covered: September 2012–December 2013.

Description of the System: The Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) monitors six categories of priority health-risk behaviors among youth and young adults: 1) behaviors that contribute to unintentional injuries and violence; 2) tobacco use; 3) alcohol and other drug use; 4) sexual behaviors that contribute to unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection; 5) unhealthy dietary behaviors; and 6) physical inactivity. In addition, YRBSS monitors the prevalence of obesity and asthma. YRBSS includes a national school-based Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) conducted by CDC and state and large urban school district school-based YRBSs conducted by state and local education and health agencies. This report summarizes results for 104 health-risk behaviors plus obesity, overweight, and asthma from the 2013 national survey, 42 state surveys, and 21 large urban school district surveys conducted among students in grades 9–12.

Some highlights:

  • From 1991-2013, there has been a significant decline in the prevalence of adolescents who’ve driven with someone who had drunk alcohol (39.9% to 21.9%).
  • From 1991-2013, the prevalence of having carried a weapon has gone down significantly (26.1% to 17.9%). The prevalence of carrying a weapon on school property went down, too (11.8% to 5.2%).
  • From 1991-2013, the prevalence of carrying a gun went down significantly (7.9% to 5.5%).
  • From 1991-2013, the prevalence of being in a physical fight went down significantly (42.5% to 24.7%). The prevalence of being injured in a fight went down, too (4.4% to 3.1%).
  • From 1991-2013, the prevalence of having ever smoked cigarettes went down significantly (70.1% to 41.1%). The percentage of those under 13 years of age who did went down, too (23.8% to 9.3%).
  • From 1991-2013, the prevalence of currently smoking cigarettes went down significantly (27.5% to 15.7%). The percentage of smoking frequently went down, too (12.7% to 5.6%).
  • From 1991-2013, the prevalence of having ever drunk alcohol down significantly (81.6% to 66.2%). The percentage of those under 13 years of age who did went down, too (32.7% to 18.6%).
  • From 1991-2013, the prevalence of currently drinking alcohol went down significantly (50.8% to 34.9%).
  • From 1991-2013, the prevalence of ever having sexual intercourse went down significantly (54.1% to 46.8%). The percentage of those under 13 years of age who did went down, too (10.2% to 5.6%).
  • From 1991-2013, the prevalence of using a condom during sexual intercourse went up significantly (46.2% to 59.1%).

While I’m at it, Kevin Drum posted this chart earlier in the week:



It’s easy to complain that things are going to hell-in-a-handbasket. It gets attention, clicks, views, and even money. But there are lots of things that are getting better, and it’s odd to keep pretending they are not. Could things be improved? Always. But that doesn’t mean we should be all Chicken Little all the time.


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