Just as boys will be boys and girls will be girls, apparently teens will be teens when it comes to what is termed risky behavior.

Teenagers have long been experimenting with drugs, sex and alcohol, and they are continuing to do so at about the same rates as in the past.

That's according to the 2007 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, coordinated by LEAF Council on Alcoholism and Addictions and the State University College at Oneonta Center for Economic and Community Development.

The survey results were based on responses from about 2,000 students at 10 of the 12 public high schools in Otsego County.

The good news is that the rates for the teen vices mentioned above have been declining slightly over the past decade. But, since 2000, there has been a significant upward trend in the level of students with weight problems or obesity.

"I was very impressed by the reductions in substance abuse and use for alcohol, cigarettes and marijuana," said Tim Hayes, director of the SUCO Center for Economic and Community Development. "I can't tell you why it happened, but I am very pleased that it did."

In 2007, we still had 72 percent of high schoolers having used alcohol, 37 percent having smoked pot and 39 percent having had sex.

Skeptics, of course, will be quick to question how many of the respondents were shy about telling the truth or exaggerated their experiences. It's likely there is a little bit of both. Since many of the local results are not way out of line with state and national statistics, or earlier area responses, coordinators say they believe the local sample is fairly close to the mark.

The initial survey in 1997 was started by the former Leatherstocking's Promise "" The Alliance for Youth, which arose from a national youth services summit in Philadelphia. The group identified youth issues and addressed them, often with grant money.

In 2002, the group was awarded $100,000 to combat substance abuse among youth. Based on the survey, it could be argued that the slight decline in abuse is at least partially a result of that effort.

The latest survey cost about $20,000 and was funded by The Scriven Foundation, The United Way of Delaware and Otsego Counties, Otsego County Community Services and the Bassett Healthcare Research Institute.

And the survey wasn't completed ``just to put it in on a shelf," according to Julia Dostal, executive director of LEAF.

While the results can be viewed as good news or disappointing, depending on your point of view, youth advocates now have the ammunition to develop an agenda _ whether to fight teen sex, drugs, drinking or obesity.

Trending Video

Recommended for you