The CDC has released results from its annual National Youth Risk Behavior Study (YRBS). The survey was administered across high schools nationwide and found that, overall, teenagers today engaged in less risky behavior than those 10 years earlier. Despite this general decrease, the figures indicated that Latino teens engaged in more risky behavior than black and white teenagers, especially concerning sexual behavior.
While black and white teens showed significant decreases both in those who had ever had sexual intercourse and those who had four or more sexual partners, Latino teens showed no significant change in these categories; 52% reported ever having sexual intercourse in 2007 compared to 53% in 1991 and 17% reported having ever had four or more sexual partners in 2007 and 1991.
Moreover, Latino students did not demonstrate the same increase in learning about HIV/AIDS in school:
The percentage of high school students who were taught about HIV/AIDS in school did not change significantly among Hispanics (85 percent in 2007; 82 percent in 1991), but did increase during 1991-2007 among black students (90 percent in 2007: 84 percent in 1991) and white students (91 percent in 2007; 83 percent in 1991.)
These statistics demonstrate the continued importance of providing a comprehensive sexual education for all teenagers, particularly one that is culturally competent. It is imperative that continue to push for comprehensive sex ed, especially in light of recent findings refuting the ability of abstinence-only education to effectively delay sexual initiation.
More figures and statistics from YRBS, including information about other health risk behaviors, can be found here.
Contributed by Yodit Beru, Policy Intern