CDC: Sex and drug rates down among teens, suicidal thoughts up
Health hazards like depression, suicidal ideation, and sexual violence seem to be increasingly prevalent among U.S. teenagers, according to new CDC report.
A new CDC report shows rates of sex and drug use among teenagers are declining, though other health risks pose alarming dangers.
The results come from the National Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which is administered by the CDC and contains nationwide data on thousands of adolescent students from 2007 to 2017. CDC officials can’t verify the accuracy of each questionnaire, but say it’s about as accurate as any self-reported survey can be.
“Today’s youth are making better decisions about their health than just a decade ago,” said Dr. Jonathan Mermin, who directs CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention. “But, some experiences, such as physical and sexual violence, are outside their control and continue at painfully high levels. Their experiences today have powerful implications for their lives tomorrow.”
About 20 percent of students said they’d been bullied at school, while 1 in 10 females and 1 in 28 males reported having been physically forced to have sex. Alarmingly, the proportion of students who reported feeling “persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness” increased to 1 in 3. The report shows students who:
- Were bullied at school: Has not significantly decreased from 19.9% in 2009 to 19.0% in 2017.
- Were forced to have sex: Has not significantly improved from 7.8% in 2007 to 7.4% in 2017.
- Felt sad or hopeless: Has increased from 28.5% in 2007 to 31.5% in 2017.
The data on students and suicidal ideation were perhaps the darkest: 17.2 percent of students nationwide said they’d seriously considered attempting suicide in the year before the survey. Girls were about twice as likely than boys to have considered suicide, while about three times as many gay, lesbian, or bisexual students reported considering suicide compared to heterosexual students.
About 1 in 7 students had actually made a suicide plan.
“An adolescent’s world can be bleak,” said Dr. Jonathan Mermin, an official with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which conducted the survey and analyzed the data. “But having a high proportion of students report they had persistent feelings of hopelessness and 17 percent considering suicide is deeply disturbing.”
Compared to 2017, fewer students reported having used drugs like marijuana, cocaine, alcohol, and even injected drugs like heroin–only 1.5 percent of student said they’d used drugs that require a needle. However, about 1 in 7 said they’d taken opioids without prescription. It was the first time the CDC included a question about opioids so it’s unclear whether that represents a rising trend.
Also a mystery is why condom use seems to be dropping. The report found that about half teenagers said they’d used condoms during sex, down from 61 percent in 2007.
“Half of the nearly 20 million new STDs reported each year are among young people aged 15-24,” the CDC notes in the report.
The rates of sex, which provide a broad indication of the prevalence of STDs among young adults, were the lowest the CDC has observed since it began administering the survey in 1991. It showed that teens who:
- Ever had sex: Declined from 47.8% in 2007 to 39.5% in 2017.
- Had four or more sexual partners: Declined from 14.9% in 2007 to 9.7% in 2017.
- Used a condom during last sex: Declined from 61.5% in 2007 to 53.8% in 2017.
The CDC said students tend to lead healthier lives when they have a strong support network.
“There’s strong data to show that family support and attention by your parents to what you’re doing can make a difference in an adolescent’s life,” Dr. Jonathan Mermin, an official with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told the New York Times. “Communities can support access to mental health and substance use services. Schools can offer coping skills and bystander intervention training.”
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Whether or not women think beards are sexy has to do with "moral disgust"
- A new study found that women perceive men with facial hair to be more attractive as well as physically and socially dominant.
- Women tend to associate more masculine faces with physical strength, social assertiveness, and formidability.
- Women who display higher levels of "moral disgust," or feelings of repugnance toward taboo behaviors, are more likely to prefer hairy faces.
Beards and perceptions of masculinity<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjU5OTg0MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NzkxMjM3N30.cH-GqNwP5GVqvstgJWAhBPn1B_lYpVEAI0I7iax7EQw/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C1900%2C0%2C849&height=700" id="caae6" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="cb0a355a4e8e1899789bc45f3f7aef56" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Photo Credit: Wikimedia<p>The study used 919 American (mostly white) women ages 18-70 who rated 30 pictures of men they were shown with various stages of facial hair growth. The photographs depicted men with faces that had been digitally altered to look more feminine or more masculine, with a beard and without a beard. The women rated the men according to perceived attractiveness for long-term and short-term relationships. The study found that the more facial hair the men had, the higher the men were rated on their attractiveness, particularly for their suitability for a long-term relationship.</p><p>Part of this might be attributed to facial masculinity — i.e. protruding brow ridge, wide cheekbones, thick jawline, and deeply set narrow eyes — which conveys information to a woman about a man's underlying health and formidability. Women tend to associate more masculine faces with physical strength and social assertiveness. It can also indicate a man with a superior immune response. The researchers suggested that their findings favoring bearded men could be due to the fact that facial hair enhances the masculine facial features on a man's face, like creating the illusion of a thicker jaw line. This could communicate direct benefits to women like resources and protection that would enhance survival among mothers and their infants. In other words, while a beard doesn't mean superior genetics in and of itself, it might be a primitive, ornamental way of saying, "Hey girl, I'm a testosterone-fueled lean, mean, pathogen fighting machine." <br></p><p>It could also be that a beard becomes its own destiny. The researchers in this study cite prior research that found that by growing a beard, men felt more masculine and had higher levels of serum testosterone, which was linked to a higher level of social dominance. They also tended to subscribe to more old-school beliefs about gender roles in their relationships with women as compared to men with clean-shaven faces.<span></span><br></p>
What does disgust have to do with beard preference?<p>Obviously, not all women dig beards. The researchers were particularly interested in what traits make a women prefer bearded men over clean-shaven faces. They looked into several factors including a woman's disgust levels on various concepts, her desire to become pregnant, and her exposure to facial hair in her personal life. </p><p>According to the study, women who were not into facial hair were turned-off by potential parasites or other critters they imagined could be in the hair or skin. Women ranking high on this "ectoparasite disgust" scale might have viewed beards as a sign of poor grooming habits. However, women who ranked higher in levels of "pathogen" did find the bearded men to be desirable, possibly because they perceived beards as a signal of good health and immune function. An intriguing discovery in the study was links to morality. Women who displayed higher levels of "moral disgust," or feelings of repugnance toward taboo behaviors, were more likely to prefer hairy faces. The authors opined that this could reflect a link between beardedness, politically conservative outlooks, and traditional views regarding performances of masculinity in heterosexual relationships.</p>
Additional findings<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjU5OTg1My9vcmlnaW4uZ2lmIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNDI1NjUyOX0.P9B8WbmJR0q4nfzYZKbuNSA-2SAigVWJgrQE-_Gxlds/img.gif?width=980" id="49143" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2ed3b1d6f20fc170bf2974646e565e8d" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />Giphy<p>The correlations that existed between married and single women's rating on the attractiveness of beards were not particularly clear, although the researchers noted that single and married women who wanted children tended to find beards more attractive than the women who didn't want children. They also found that women with bearded husbands found beards to be more attractive, which might indicate that social exposure to beards influences how desirable they are perceived of as being. Or it could be that men with wives who like beards grow beards.</p><p>It's important to note that culture plays a huge role in how attractive women perceive certain male characteristics as being. This study looked at a small, culturally specific group of American women, so no big, universal claims should be made about masculinity, facial hair, and male desirability to women. However, research like this is important in highlighting how human grooming decisions are driven by much more than fashion trends. Sociobiological, economic, and ecological factors all play a part in the way we choose to present ourselves.</p>
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