Illinois kids are getting more responsible

May 6, 2011

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Kids these days are engaging in less risky behavior than they did a decade and a half ago, according to a new study of Illinois teens by Children’s Memorial Hospital. Compared to the mid-1990s, Illinois teenagers are drinking less, smoking less and being more responsible on the roads.

Jennifer Cartland analyzed the numbers, from the Illinois Youth Risk Behavior Survey. She says while some might assume kids’ behavior is getting worse, the improvement likely won’t surprise people who work directly with teens.

“I think we still tend to demonize teenagers a little bit and get very frustrated with them,” Cartland said. “But I think people who work in high schools see these changes happening with the kids they’re working with.”

Cartland says that, while it’s impossible to know the cause and effect based on just this data, it seems like public health messages are getting through.

Her report finds drinking, huffing, smoking and fighting have all been on the decline. Fewer Illinois kids now are riding without seatbelts or getting in the car with a drunk driver. One number that hasn’t changed much is youths reporting a suicide attempt in the last year. That has stayed fairly steady, at just under 10 percent. 

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