FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Good News About US Teens

Teens take the blame for many of our social problems, it seems. But according to one tracking system, today's teens appear to be drinking less, committing fewer crimes, and having fewer babies.

According to the Child Well-Being Index, a measure developed by the Foundation for Child Development:

  • The teen birth rate dropped by half between 1992 and 2004 (from 20 births per 1,000 girls to 10.9 births)
  • Binge drinking among high school seniors fell from 36.9% in 1975 to 29.2% in 2004.
  • The number of teens who were victims of violent crime fell from 120 per 1,000 in 1994 to 45 per 1,000 in 2004.

The numbers are so impressive that Jeffrey Butts, directory of the youth justice program at the Urban Institute, stated, "Maybe we have the next 'greatest generation' coming along here."

There is disagreement, however on the forces that have made these numbers fall. An improving economy, better policing, and the lessening of crack cocaine have all been credited. Simple demographics may also play a role, as well as more effective parenting techniques. Plus, in the category of fewer births, it's not clear whether that is attributable to fewer teens having sex or more teens practicing birth control.

Not all the findings were this positive, however. The study found that more teens were living in single-parent households, and that obesity among teens was on the rise. However, if given a choice, most of us would rather see kids reaching for chips and soda than booze and dope any day...

Source: CNN.com