Teen drug use and sex down, survey reports

In B.C., 19.9 per cent of teens were having sex, compared to 24 per cent in 2003. Of those, 44 per cent of those teens were in Grade 12.

Teens are having less sex, and fewer youth are trying drugs than in previous years, according to recently-released results of a new B.C.-wide student survey.

Most of the survey results show that teens have reduced risky behaviour, as compared compared to youth five years ago.

One of the only downfalls seen in Langley students was they are more likely to drink pop and eat fast food than in other districts.

In B.C., 19.9 per cent of teens were having sex, compared to 24 per cent in 2003. Of those, 44 per cent of those teens were in Grade 12.

Compared to five and 10 years previously, youth in 2013 were more likely to wait until later in their adolescence before having their first drink.

Also, fewer teens are trying hard drugs like crystal meth and ecstasy. For example, the percentage who had ever tried ecstasy decreased from seven per cent to four. However, prescription pill use climbed dramatically in 2008 to 15 per cent, going down to 11 per cent in 2013.

Sadly, bullying is up, with the most common age to be teased  age 14 for females and 15 for males.

Every five years, The McCreary Centre Society administers the Adolescent Health Survey across B.C. The questionnaire is used to gather information about young people’s physical and emotional health, and about factors that can influence health during adolescence or in later life.

In 2013, more than 29,000 B.C. youth participated in this study, including students in Langley.  Using statistical analysis, the authors of the report are able to find correlations and draw tentative conclusions that they shared with Langley principals and vice-principals.

Some of the findings of the report for the South Fraser region include:

• 90 per cent of students in the study now have a cellphone;

• Eating breakfast is seen as a protective factor for positive mental health;

• Risky sexual behaviour in youth has decreased;

• Overall marijuana and substance use is down; however, those who use marijuana continue to use it consistently;

• In all areas of school, students report feeling safer, and that teachers care about them;

• 3/4 of students report being on their phone after they were supposed to be sleeping;

• Nine or more hours of sleep is considered a protective factor for positive mental health; and

• The most robust protective factors for students are positive family relationships and positive school connectedness.

To learn more about the McCreary study, visit:  mcs.bc.ca/ahs