ENGLAND - They are much maligned and typically reduced to one-dimensional pastiche by their parents, the media and entertainers. No character better captured the general disdain with which teenagers are treated than Harry Enfield's iconic, monosyllabic 'Kevin the Teenager.'
But new official figures show that the traditional portrayal of modern British teens as heavy drinking, smoking, drug-taking fornicators is no longer accurate. Health statistics show that there has been a sharp decline in the number of teen pregnancies and abortions compared to 10-15 years ago. The number of teen pregnancies is the lowest since the 1970s while the abortion rate for under-16s dropped from three in every 1,000 in 2012 to 2.6 in 2013.
Growing numbers of religiously observants teenagers from conservative migrant backgrounds are partly credited with the drop. Underage drinking is also down. Only 9 per cent of the 5,000 adolescents surveyed by the Health and Social Care Information Centre said they had drunk alcohol in the week before taking the survey.
One quarter of pupils said they had drunk alcohol in the seven days prior to taking the survey ten years ago.
Among the under-18s surveyed, the proportion who claimed to have never tried alcohol was up from just 39 per cent in 2003 to 61 per cent in the most recent litmus test of teenage behaviour and values. Hard drug consumption also appears to be sharply down among the nation's teenagers.
Just one in six of those questioned admitted to taking drugs compared to one in three who confessed to using banned substances back in 2003. Heroin and crack cocaine usage among teenagers was significantly down on ten years ago.
"Trends in drinking, smoking and teenage pregnancy rates for young people are very encouraging," said public health minister Jane Ellison. "Young people who adopt healthy lifestyles early on can use them as a building block for success, using that resilience to get on in life."
The Telegraph/September 14, 2014
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