More Teens Avoid Risky Behavior Sex, Drugs, Fighting Decline over 10 Years

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON -- The number of teen-agers engaging in risky behavior -- from taking drugs to fighting to having sex -- declined steadily in the last decade, according to an Urban Institute study released yesterday.

The study by the nonpartisan Washington think-tank found that adolescents are more likely to abstain from risky behavior now than they have been at any point in the past 10 years.

But the findings show a disturbing exception to this trend: Among Latino youths, participation in multiple forms of risky behavior increased dramatically. The number of Latino teens engaging in five or more risky activities increased by nearly 50 percent from 1991 to 1997.

"There is a need for more focused research on Hispanic students," said Laura D. Lindberg, the report's lead author.

Commissioned by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to examine the issue of teen risk-taking, the study was based on surveys of adolescents done during the 1990s. It identified 10 risk behaviors and tracked the proportion of teen-agers engaged in one or more of them. …