Teens In The News


3/3/17: 6 Articles You Need to Read This Week

We know you must be busy--that's why we're keeping up on the news for you. Here are some of the latest articles about teen health that are worth your time. Check back every Friday for more headlines you may have missed!


1. Doctors issue warning to parents about teen marijuana use

Today, the majority of teens ages 12 to 17 think marijuana use isn't harmful, and many of their parents agree. But, according to a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics, it's best for teens not to use the drug due to the risks of harming their developing brains. Marijuana today is much more potent than the marijuana of the previous generation, and pediatricians are urging parents to think twice before allowing teens to risk the long- and short-term affects that marijuana can bring. 


2. A bill in California proposes that schools start no earlier than 8:30 

Studies show that allowing teens to sleep a little later improves well-being, GPA, and parent-child relationships, says the author of the bill, Sen. Anthony Portantino. When teens go through puberty, their natural circadian rhythms differ from those of adults, making it difficult to fall asleep early in order to wake up for early school start times. 

For more information on this topic, check out our story, "The Teen Who Woke Up Her School."


3. A doctor brings grief education to the classroom

In American culture, there's a taboo surrounding death and grief. That's why Dr. Jessica Zitter, a critical and palliative care physician in California, decided it was time to talk to high school students about death and end-of-life care. Dr. Zitter says that teens are "woefully unprepared" to face death and she seeks to help children and teens "understand the landscape of what can happen" when they are faced with the death of a friend or a loved one.

Check out this Choices story about a few teens who stepped up to break the silence that surrounds death and grieving. 


4. To keep teens safe online, they need to learn to manage risks

A recent study found that most of the safety controls that can be downloaded to keep teens safe online focus on ways parents can access and block teens' online activity. The problem is, this doesn't give teens an opportunity to learn how to safely navigate the web on their own. This comes at a time when teens are experiencing unwanted exposure and risk online. And the only app that has been designed to let teens control their own online safety is ReThink, which was designed by 15-year-old Trisha Prabhu (who was one of our Changemakers!). 


5. Unhealthy diets may increase teen girls' breast cancer risk as adults

Researchers recently found that women who said they ate poorly in their teenage years were 35 percent more likely to develop premenopausal breast cancer. These women recalled eating more foods that are classified as part of the "inflammatory diet" (such as red meat, sodas, sweet foods, and white flour).


6. Could a single text message transform student attendance and grades?

Results from an experiment at Teachers College at Columbia University show that student grades and attendance improve when parents are notified of missing assignments and absences. Parents received a text message when students missed assignments, like this one: "Parent alert: Jaden has 5 missing assignments in science class. For more information, log online." The study found that parents rarely logged into an online portal, but consistently checked text messages, which led them to communicate with the school and teachers more. This resulted in an increase in GPA, most notably in struggling students. 


Be sure to check out our past news posts, and check back each Friday for an update:



2/24/17: 4 Articles You Need to Read This Week

We know you must be busy--that's why we're keeping up on the news for you! Here are some of the latest articles about teen health that are worth your time. Check back every Friday for more headlines you may have missed!


1. Teachers are stepping up to fight fake news

A recent Stanford study determined that students at all grade levels are having trouble determining what's fake and what's real when it comes to news. Because of this, teachers have come up with creative ways to help students learn how to distil the truth. One ninth-grade teacher uses pamphlets from the French Revolutionary period to help her teens understand that fake news isn't new. A high-school teacher in California knows that it's even harder for his English-language learners to distinguish real news from fake, so he has his students diagram news articles, pointing out the lede and identifying quotations. He says media literacy is the key to overcoming this threat. Be sure to keep an eye out for our own upcoming fake news story in May!


2. Teens who are sleepy at lunch are more likely to be criminals as adults

In a study by the University of Pennsylvania and the University of York, researchers found that teen boys who reported daytime drowsiness were 4.5 times more likely to participate in a violent crime over the next decade and a half. Those who reported drowsiness at age 14 and crime at age 29 had also reported anti-social behavior as teens. So it seems that daytime drowsiness, coupled with anti-social behavior in teen boys, can be a predictor of violent-crime participation in adulthood. 


3. At home, parents aren't keeping opioids away from teens

According to a study published in the journal Pediatrics, parents aren't properly storing and disposing of opioids, leaving them up for grabs for kids and teens. Out of the 681 parents of teens who were surveyed, researchers found that almost 70 percent improperly stored prescription painkillers. Experts say this usually happens because parents trust their teens not to misuse pills, but it can actually be an easy way for teens to experiment. 


4. Study says teens who are high achievers are more likely to smoke marijuana and drink alcohol

Academically-gifted students in their late teens are more likely than their peers to smoke marijuana and drink alcohol, according to a new study. In fact, smart teens were almost 50 percent more likely to occasionally smoke marijuana and were twice as likely to drink alcohol regularly. The researchers presume this could be linked to more open-mindedness in higher-achieving students or the fact that high achieving students often come from wealthier backgrounds.



2/17/17: 5 Articles You Need to Read This Week

We know you're busy--that's why we're keeping up on the news for you. Here are some of the latest articles about teen health that are worth your time. Check back every Friday for more headlines you may have missed!


1. A teen's random act of kindness uplifts school on Valentine's Day

On Valentine's Day at Troy High School in Ohio, each student received a surprise carefully taped to their lockers. Each of the 1,300 handmade, origami hearts had been made by an anonymous Troy High School student, who wrote a personal note and the words "You are loved" on each heart. The creator -- who wishes to remain anonymous -- worked on these hearts for months in secret, without telling her friends or parents what she was doing. Let this random act of kindness inspire teens and help them see that it's never a bad idea to take an opportunity to create kindness. You can also read this teacher's blog post about creating kindness in her class using our CULTURE OF KINDNESS activity.


2. Later school start-times benefits teens, study proves

According to a new study, when teens are able to get more sleep and start school at 8:30, graduation rates and attendance rates are better. For students in lower socioeconomic areas, the bus is often their only form of transportation -- this means later start times help close the achievement gap, allowing these students to catch their bus so they get to school on time. Have your class read The Teen Who Woke Up Her School to learn more about a student who fought for this change in her school...and won!


3. Depression rate for teenage girls in on the rise. The culprit? Social media.

A new study published in the journal Pediatrics suggests that teenage girls are experiencing depression at higher rates than boys of the same age. The study notes that the number of teen girls experiencing depression increased rapidly after 2011, and the researchers suspect social media dependence may be to blame. Because girls are quicker than boys to take part in new forms of communication and social media, this impacts them more than it does teen boys. Be sure to check out our story, "We Have Depression" for more information to share with your students. 


4. Teenagers were behind the fake news epidemic

In Veles, Macedonia, 18-year-old Boris dropped out of high school when he started earning big bucks from ads on his sensationalist, political fake-news website. In just a few months he had earned $16,000 in a country where the average monthly salary is not much more than $300. But this isn't new. Also in Macedonia, two brothers became famous for their fake health site that still gets millions of views. The town of Veles has experienced what former president Obama called a "digital gold rush" with over 100 fake news sites in a town of only 55,000 people. With the propagation of these fake sites, it can be hard to figure out who we can trust on the web. So, keep an eye out for our upcoming May issue, where you'll find a feature to help teens spot fake news, increasing their digital citizenship!


5. How do you empower girls for life? Start in middle school.

Confidence is key in the workplace, but all too often, women are taken advantage of and not given the opportunities they need to speak up. This could change, experts say, if girls were taught how to be empowered at a younger age. These six tips will help parents and teachers learn how to foster confidence in their girls. One tip: Teach girls that there's no way to be perfect, and help them understand that experiencing failure leads to grit and resilience. To teach this lesson, have student read this article, followed by The League of Extraordinary Losers. Don't forget to show our slideshow featuring failure resumes of well-known adults!


2/10/2017: 4 Articles You Need to Read This Week

The second week in February is nearly over, and we know you're busy--that's why we're keeping up on the news for you. Here are some of the latest articles about teen health that are worth your time. Check back every Friday for more headlines you may have missed!


1. Teenagers may return to childhood favorites to cope, but that isn't a bad thing

When teens are stressed, their coping mechanisms sometimes include returning to their childhood favorites, like Percy Jackson novels, and cartoons, like Spongebob Squarepants. Some teens also take on repetitive tasks, like ripping pieces of paper and taping it back together, to clear their minds and focus. This is all part of growing up, and learning to deal with all the neurological and hormonal changes that puberty brings. Recent research shows that taking on their own problems, known as approach-coping, allows teens to feel happier than those who avoid issues all together. Other research backs this up, proving that positive distractions help teens deal with chronic stressors. 


2. "Dripping" is the new, more dangerous version of vaping 

Teens are now putting drops of liquid nicotine directly onto the heated coils of e-cigarettes, which produces heavier nicotine clouds and a stronger hit. In a Yale study of 7,045 Connecticut teens published in the journal Pediatrics, 1,080 admitted to vaping, 282 of which took part in dripping. This dangerous practice could lead to teens inhaling more carcinogens and toxins, like formaldehyde, at higher temperatures.


3. Rural America poses challenges for teens when it comes to making a college decision

When it comes to making a college decision, students from rural areas sometimes feel trepidation. Often, they can't afford to pay for college, and other times they fear they'll be outcasts for having different beliefs. John Dunn, now at North Carolina State University, was the first of his family to graduate high school. Before heading to college, Dunn was afraid of being stereotyped as a redneck. Amanda Wahlstedt, grew up on food stamps in small-town Kentucky, and was the "token liberal" among her peer groups. Now, at Wellesley, she realizes she is more conservative on certain issues, and seeks to prove that her rural background will not hold her back.


4. Less than half of teens get flu shots and even fewer get vaccinated to protect against cervical cancer

In the 2015-2016 flu season, just 47 percent of 13-17 year olds received a flu shot. The CDC recommends striving for an 80 percent vaccination rate to help eradicate vaccine-preventable diseases. In addition, the number of teen girls getting three rounds of the HPV vaccination ranged from 24 to 68 percent, while the number of boys getting their HPV vaccinations ranged from 16 to 58 percent. Despite seemingly low turnouts, teen vaccination levels are at historic highs, and the disease these vaccines prevent are at historic lows. 


credit: milicad/iStockphoto

2/3/2017: 3 Articles You Need to Read This Week


Welcome to February! (How is it already here?!) We know you're busy--that's why we're keeping up on the news for you. Here are some of the latest articles about teen health that are worth your time. Check back every Friday for more headlines you may have missed!


1. "Tinder for teens" is posing risks

An app called Yellow is being marketed as a friendship app for those 12 and up. It allows users to swipe yes or no to match with potential friends, and once users match, they have the option to chat. Adults around the world are nervous about the app because of its sexual content, and because essentially anyone has the ability to pose as a teen.


2. At Standing Rock, a group of teens and young adults launched a movement

After two of her friends committed suicide, Jasilyn Charger, a 19-year-old Native American, knew she had to make a difference for Native American teens, who are one and a half times more likely to commit suicide than any other group of teens. Charger's group, called One Mind Youth Movement, raised money to take Native American teens on trips to see the ocean, created a safe house for teens, and counseled those who were at risk. After the suicide rates began decreasing, the group became involved in in the campaigns against the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, establishing a retreat at Standing Rock to create community for teens and those feeling targeted. 


3. The brain circuits of bipolar teens may give clues to suicide risk

A new study, completed by researchers at Yale University and published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, looked at images of the frontal cortex of teens diagnosed with bipolar disorder. In teens who had attempted suicide before, there was a decrease in the brain circuitry that controls emotion and impulses, and in the connections between the parts of the brain that control these things. The hope is that this study will help provide methods to identify suicide risk and create therapies to strengthen connections in the frontal cortex of those at risk.


For more Teens in the News, be sure to check out our past updates:





credit: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

1/27/17: 3 Articles You Need to Read This Week

We know you're busy--that's why we're keeping up on the news for you. Here are some of the latest articles about teen health that are worth your time. Check back every Friday for more headlines you may have missed!


1. A national survey found that teens have experienced more bullying since the election

The survey, which was done by the Human Rights Campaign, looked at more than 50,000 teens ages 13 to 18, across all genders, sexual orientations, ethnicities, and religious backgrounds. Notably, the survey revealed that 79 percent of teens have witnessed an increase in bullying and hate messages since the election. One-third of the teens reported feelings of hopelessness in the last 30 days. On a positive note, more than half of the teens said they feel motivated to help those in their communities in response to the election. 


2. Teens may not be able to smell their own body odor

A new study, completed by scientists in Denmark found that younger people's sense of smell isn't as strong as adults, which is why teens may not notice their own sweat. In fact, teens ages 12 to 18 had trouble detecting the smells of sweat and cigarette smoke. 

For more information on teen hygiene, and how to teach those awkward body topics, be sure to check out our story, "A Survival Guide to...Your Body Right Now!" and this helpful guide from teacher-adviser Amy Lauren Smith.


3. E-cigarettes are not making teens smoke less

From 2013 to 2014, e-cigarette use among teens tripled, while traditional cigarette use continued to decline. Some perceived this as indicative of the idea that e-cigarettes were driving down teen smoking, but this may not be the case. In fact, teen cigarette smoking declined a steady 16 percent from 2004 to 2014, and in 2009, when e-cigarettes hit the markets, there was no drastic decline in teen smoking. That's why study researcher Lauren Dutra believes e-cigarettes are not discouraging teen smoking and are instead acting as a gateway drug to cigarette smoking. 


For more Teens in the News, be sure to check out our past updates:


Photo credit: Peter Snaterse/Shutterstock

1/20/17: 3 Articles You Need to Read This Week

We know you're busy--that's why we're keeping up on the news for you. Here are some of the latest articles about teen health that are worth your time. Check back every Friday for more headlines you may have missed!


1. Teens are interrupting their sleep to check social media

Teens' excessive social media use isn't anything new, but now a recent report has found that many are also waking up in the middle of the night to check likes and read posts. About one-fifth of the 480 Welsh teens surveyed admitted to this. Of course, social media can be used for good, but when it becomes an inhibitor of things like sleep and school, it's definitely an issue that needs to be discussed.


Since the 1990s, Iceland has been working on a program to use extracurricular activities -- like dancing, skating, soccer, and playing music -- to keep teens from abusing substances. The results of this initiative, called Youth in Iceland, are almost unbelievable. In the first few years of the program, 23 percent of 14 to 16 year olds were smoking daily, and 42 percent had been drunk in the past month. In 2012, only 3 percent of teens smoked daily, and only 5 percent had been drunk in the past month.

For more information on teaching the dangers of substance abuse, be sure to check out out our stories "Heroin Took Over Our Town," "We Used to Be Drug Addicts," and "The Danger of Just One Drink."


3. Some lawmakers say a "training wage" may help teens get employed

In Washington state, the recent minimum wage increase may be a good thing for teens -- if they can even get hired, that is. A higher minimum wage also means more employer risk, which makes it difficult for inexperienced teens to land a job. That's why lawmakers are proposing a training wage for teens -- a rate around 85% of the minimum wage -- to encourage businesses to hire younger employees.


Credit: ESB Professional/Shutterstock

1/13/17: 3 Articles You Need To Read This Week

We know you're busy--that's why we're keeping up on the news for you. Here are some of the latest articles about teen health that are worth your time. Check back every Friday for more headlines you may have missed!


1. Instagram can be a great resource for high school teachers

It's easy to think of social media as a something to be avoided in the classroom, but it can actually be a good way to engage teens and get them involved in classroom activities. Plus, you may be able to connect with other teachers to share ideas.

To inspire teens with social media, check out Where's My Story?, about Marley Dias, who used the hashtag #1000blackgirlbooks to make real change. And for more ideas on getting teens engaged on social media, see 9 Fantastic Social Media Advocacy Campaigns for Teens.


2. A bill was proposed in California to help teens spot fake news

The new bill, proposed by assemblyman Jimmy Gomez, would move to add curriculum standards that teach students how to identify false stories. Fake news became rampant during the recent presidential election, and Gomez believes passing this bill will prevent future generations from succumbing to these online hoaxes. 


3. Obesity-related illnesses are on the rise in teens

A new report reveals that illnesses like Type 2 Diabetes and high blood pressure have risen sharply among kids and teens in past years. Insurance claims for Type 2 Diabetes for those under 23 more than doubled from 2011 to 2015. Claims for prediabetes and sleep apnea, also related to obesity, increased 110 percent and 167 percent, respectively. 


For more Teens in the News, be sure to check out our past updates:




Photo source: Samuel Borges Photography/Shutterstock

1/6/17: Articles You Need To Read This Week

Welcome to the new year! It's 2017 and we know you're busier than ever--that's why we're keeping up on the news for you. Here are some of the latest articles about teen health that are worth your time. Check back every Friday for more headlines you may have missed!


1. Has the legalization of marijuana changed how teens think about drug risks?

As more and more states legalize marijuana, some teens are now perceiving the substance as less of a threat, says a new study. Since legalization in Washington state, marijuana use has increased among eighth and tenth graders by two percent and four percent, respectively. In addition, eighth graders are 15 percent less likely to perceive marijuana as harmful. Yet in Colorado, teens views of marijuana didn't show a change in perceived harmfulness. For more information on teens and marijuana use, be sure to check out our story, Is Pot the Next Legal Killer?

2. Workout supplements may be dangerous for teens

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Sports Medicine both discourage minors from using workout supplements like creatine. Yet, it seems that these supplements, which are not regulated by the FDA, are often recommended to teens by the companies who sell them. In a new study, a researcher called 244 health food stores in America, pretending to be a teenage athlete who wanted a product to increase muscle. Two-thirds of sales associates recommended creatine. Though it is a natural amino acid found in meat and fish, too much creatine can damage the kidneys and other organs.

3. As little as an hour a day on social media can affect teen wellbeing

A new study conducted by the IZA Institute determined that children ages 10 to 15 who spend a minimum of one hour "chatting" on social media are, overall, 14 percent less satisfied with nearly every aspect of their lives, except friendships. (This affected girls more than boys.) However, the news isn't all bad: the study also found that chatting on social media can increase empathy, so put your teens' screen time to good use with our 9 Fantastic Social Media Advocacy Campaigns For Teens. For more information on how phone use affects the teenage brain, check out our story Help! I Can't Put Down My Phone


Curious about Choices? We're the award-winning health and life-skills magazine for teens, published by Scholastic. For more information, be sure to head over to Choices.Scholastic.com and discover what we're all about!


Teen Drug Use Has Reached Surprising Lows

Bethany Radcliff

We spend a lot of time talking about disturbing new teen drug trends, but finally, there's some good news! According to recently released federal survey data, teen drug use is, for the most part, tracking lower than it's been in 25 years.

The Monitoring the Future report looked at the illicit drug, alcohol, and tobacco use of 50,000 teenagers in grades 8 through 12. They found that 5 percent of eighth graders, 10 percent of high school sophomores, and 14 percent of seniors had tried illicit drugs in the previous 12 months. In 1991, these percentages were 13 percent, 18 percent and 21 percent across the same grade levels.

Similarly, the number of teens who had participated in binge drinking in the previous two weeks dropped, with just 3 percent of eighth graders to 16 percent of twelfth graders engaging in the activity. Binge drinking has been declining steadily in recent years.

When it comes to smoking cigarettes, twelfth grade participation has fallen from 63 percent to 28 percent in the past 25 years, and vaping has declined for the first year since it became part of the survey in 2011. Even heroin usage among teens has declined, from 1.5 percent in 2000 to 0.3 percent among twelfth graders in 2016. (These results are positive, but by no means undermine the dangerous heroin epidemic that we covered earlier this year.)

Unfortunately, not all of the news is positive, as marijuana is on the rise among older high school students. For seniors, the numbers have held at a steady rate since 2011--36 percent reported using pot this year. Though that percentage seems high, it's not as alarming as it sounds. With all the grades combined, marijuana usage has actually declined over the past few years. And with changes in legalization among states, the overall decline is a surprise that's leaving experts a bit dumbfounded--suggesting that this generation is safer and more careful than previous generations when it comes to consuming drugs.

Still, marijuana usage often gets teens comfortable with saying yes to other drugs, so it's all the more important to make sure your teens understand the dangers that all drugs--including marijuana, alcohol, and cigarettes--pose to their overall health and quality of life. These results are positive overall, but they don't erase the problems and dangers that remain. After all, these percentages are merely a number--no matter how large or small, they represent actual issues that affect teens.

For more information on teaching drug awareness in the classroom, be sure to check out this Teaching Tough Topics guide. Don't forget to share our story, "Heroin Took Over Our Town" with teens, and encourage them to get involved in the fight against drug abuse by spearheading interactive campaigns like this one from DoSomething.org.