Youth Violence Is Actually On The Decline
Hot on the tail of the release of Grand Theft Auto V, violence among young people is a hot-button issue. Rap music, video games, and movies are all becoming increasingly violent, leading many to believe that a generation of unfeeling thugs is inevitable.
The CDC keeps a record of youth violence rates among those aged 10–24. In 2011, over 700,000 cases were reported, which sounds high, but the rate has actually dropped to 7.5 cases per 100,000 kids from 15.2 in 1994. Youth violence has declined far more rapidly than the general decrease in violence seen across all age groups.
Teen Pregnancy Is Down
Along with violence, sex in the media is blamed for creating a generation of immorality and lust. Teens today are sexualized from a young age. Programs like MTV’s 16 and Pregnant alongside high-profile cases of teen pregnancy such as Bristol Palin suggest that it’s a rising problem.
However, the numbers tell a different story. Teen pregnancy rates are at a record low and have been dropping for two decades. Hispanic teens’ rates have dropped by 34 percent since 2007, and the rate is 24 percent for black teenage girls. Sex education programs and access to contraceptives are credited with the success.
Teen Drug Use Is Down
A lot of parents worry about drugs—understandably so. Drugs can cause a lot of damage, and no one wants to hear their teenager has been getting high. Parents also worry about underage drinking, with peer pressure now more of a factor than ever.
But the statistics contradict that stereotype. Drinking and marijuana use is down among teenagers. Surprisingly, the group using more illicit substances than ever is the 50–64 age group. Parents of teenagers worried about substance abuse should probably be looking at their own generation.