1999 Youth Risk survey shows sex, booze and drugs still problems - but less so

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The latest survey of behavior by Nevada teens shows that sex, booze and drugs are still growing problems among high school students, but violence is down.

The 1999 Nevada Youth Risk Behavior Survey asked 87 questions of 1,677 students in 73 schools statewide.

State Superintendent of Education Mary Peterson said the results show fewer students involved in incidents of weapon carrying, fights and suicide.

But she said there are more admissions of driving under the influence and the overall use or experimentation with cigarettes, booze and drugs off campus.

And she said sexual activity among students is on the rise.

"While we appear to be making progress in some critical areas, I am particularly concerned about the reported increases in the use of tobacco, alcohol and marijuana and the increase in sexual activity among Nevada's youth," she said.

The most positive portion of the report, she said, was progress on all measures involving adolescents carrying weapons.

Since the 1997 survey, the incidents of students carrying weapons of all types dropped 10 percent, and gun carrying dropped 17 percent. Bringing weapons to school dropped 20 percent. In addition, the number of students involved in a physical fight has dropped nearly 20 percent since 1993.

Along with those numbers, there were fewer students who seriously considered suicide this past year.

But smoking is on the rise and 69 percent of high school students polled now admit to having tried cigarettes, while 17 percent report regular smoking. Only half of those who bought cigarettes were asked to show ID.

Eighty-one percent of students admitted to having at least one alcoholic drink in their life and 53 percent within the past month. More than a third admit they've had five or more drinks in an evening. Those figures are up a bit from the 1997 survey.

Nearly half those polled used marijuana at least once in their life and a quarter used it within a month before the survey. Those numbers are up 9 percent and 4 percent respectively.

And 17 percent admitted driving when they had been drinking alcohol in the past month.

The bright spot for drug use was that one third fewer students reported being offered or given illegal drugs on school property in the past year.

More students, 51 percent altogether, reported having had sexual intercourse at least once in their lives. Among those, only 15 percent had sex with no protection. But more students - a total of 7.5 percent - say they or their partner got pregnant. That is up 25 percent over 1997.

The survey is done every two years.


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