A survey about the behaviors of suburban Chicago teenagers released by the Cook County Department of Public Health Thursday revealed some disturbing information.
The results indicate that nearly one in 10 teens has attempted suicide, 40 percent have tried cigarettes and seven percent claimed they were raped.
The Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey evaluated teens’ habits by administering a voluntary, anonymous, 91-item questionnaire to 1718 students in 20 public high schools that covered six categories: behaviors that result in violence, tobacco use, alcohol and other drug use, sexual behaviors, dietary behaviors and physical activity.
It’s part of a nationwide effort led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to evaluate teen behavior, the Daily Herald reports.
The Department of Public Health hopes these findings can be used to help pinpoint problems and address specific areas where more education could diminish these risks, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
One key problem area revealed by the study’s findings is sex education in public schools. In total, 37 percent of the survey group said they’d had sex. The study breaks down results across age and race metrics and reports that 61 percent of African-American teens have had sex, 49 percent of Hispanic teens and 24 percent of Caucasian teens. About 6 percent said they lost their virginity before age 13, and only 62 percent of current sexually active teens said they used a condom the last time they had intercourse. Nearly 20 percent drank alcohol or used drugs before intercourse the last time they had sex, and over 7 percent have been forced to have sex against their will.
“Most schools don’t have comprehensive sex education and are teaching abstinence only, but clearly we have a high amount of students who are engaging in sexual activity,” Amy Poore, a spokeswoman for the Cook County Department of Public Health, told the Sun-Times.
Poore told the Sun-Times that she hopes the new data will support appeals for grant money and help push through legislation in Springfield to establish more comprehensive sex education programs.
The full results of the study are published on the Department of Public Health’s website.
Flickr photo by josemanuelerre.