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Less Sex, Fighting, and Smoking Seen Among High School Students

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While fewer high school students are smoking cigarettes and fewer of them are having sex, the rate of condom use during sex among high school students has also dropped, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's biennial Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System report found.

The report tracks health risk behaviors among young people, drawing upon survey results from 42 states and 21 large urban school districts. This year's report, released Thursday, paints a mixed picture with many positive trends and some cause for concern. Among the findings:

  • Cigarette smoking rates among high school students have dropped to 15.7 percent, the lowest level in 22 years.
  • The percentage of high school students nationwide who had been in a physical fight at least once during the past 12 months decreased from 42 percent in 1991 to 25 percent in 2013.
  • Sixteen percent of students surveyed in 1993 reported having been in a fight on school property. That number dropped to 8 percent in 2013.
  • Nationwide, 41 percent of students who had driven a car or other vehicle during the past 30 days reported texting or emailing while driving.
  • The portion of high school students who are currently sexually active has declined from 38 percent in 1991 to 34 percent in 2013. Among the high school students who are currently sexually active, condom use also has declined from 63 percent in 2003 to 59 percent in 2013.
  • In 1993, 4.4 percent of students surveyed reported they had "not gone to school on at least 1 day during the 30 days before the survey because they felt they would be unsafe at school or on their way to or from school." That percentage has trended steadily upward, reaching 7.1 percent in 2013.
  • Nationwide, 19.6% of students said they had been bullied on school property during the 12 months before the survey. There hasn't been a statistically significant change in that figure in recent years, the report found. About 14.8 percent of students reported being "electronically bullied." The CDC first began tracking that statistic in 2011, when 16.2 percent of respondents reported such bullying.

The CDC also has a helpful website that lets you sort and view numerous years of data on various risk indicators based on geographic location, gender, and age.

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