top story

New report shows teenagers are more depressed, having less sex and doing less drugs

  • 0

SARASOTA, FL (WWSB) - A new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows fewer teenagers are having sex and doing drugs, but they're also feeling more depressed.

Every year, the C.D.C interviews several thousands of students across the country to gather this information. 

These high school students are also reporting that bullying is common at school, which may be part of the reason why so many kids are feeling sad and hopeless.

Taryn Darley is a 17-year-old senior at Sarasota High School. She said she does have groups of classmates who are still into sex and drugs, but a growing group of students have other priorities.

"As a younger kid, I didn't really know as much of what was going on," Darley said. "But if that would happen as a teenager, it would definitely have a stronger impact on my life."

At just 8-years-old, she said she was too young to feel the impacts of her own parents divorce, but troubles at home was the first reason Darley gave for her classmates depression.

"Through their parents, home problems, parents getting divorced, I can see where that can affect kids, especially at these older ages," Darley explained.

As far as sex, drugs and depression, Darley sees a connection.

"The kids who aren't doing sex and drugs are more focused on what's actually going on around them, I would say."

More focus can result in more stress and anxiety. Granted, some may be thinking, 'they're just kids... what exactly do they have to be depressed about?'

"Kids are concerned about the threat of violence, they're concerned about their emotional well-being," said P.J. Brooks, vice president of Outpatient and Youth Services for First Step of Sarasota. "There's a bit of hopelessness for many students, almost one out of three, and we need to support them better in many respects."

The C.D.C.'s annual report on teen behavior shows just that.

One in three students reported having persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness. This could be attributed to the one in five who reported being bullied at school, or the one in 10 teenage female students who reported they've been physically forced to have sex. For males, it's one in 28.

"That's, for lack of a better term, a sobering thought," Brooks said. "We really need to provide a sense of hope with our youth and part of it is establishing stronger connections and relationships and it needs to start in our homes and it needs to start in our schools"

Brooks works hand-in-hand with Sarasota High School to help alleviate some of these issues.

"They worked with us to put a full time intervention specialists on their campus, a student assistance specialist that works specifically with these issues to do early intervention," he explained.

Counseling to keep these students from turning to drugs, alcohol or worse for comfort, but Brooks reiterated what Taryn saw, too. This all starts at home.

"Every teenage kid is going to go through sad times and happy times, I think the most important thing is they know someone's always got their back," said Marla Yaegers.

She calls herself the lunch lady at Sarasota Middle School, but she's also a mother of a 14, 21 and 23-year-old.

Her strategy for raising three healthy boys is simple - always be there for them.

"I want them to know they have my full attention and they're gonna get the truth. I've always told my kids, you're going to get the truth from me," Yaegers explained. "So I make sure when they ask me a question, 'something happened at school today, someone showed me something in their bookbag,' I'm always like, tell me more about that. How did you react to that?"

It's that support which serves as the foundation for teens who leave home ready to take on the world.  For the ones who are staying away from sex and drugs like Taryn Darley, its the support system that keeps them strong.

"Good background, good family, good friends. It's who you surround yourself with," she explained.

The survey found 41 percent of high school kids said they had ever had sex, down from about 47 percent over much of the last decade.

To see the entire report click here. For more information on the C.D.C.'s tips to raising healthy children, click here

Copyright 2018 WWSB. All Rights Reserved.

Multi Media Journalist