Black On Campus
Higher Education and the African American Experience

CDC Report: Black Teens Reducing Risky Behaviors

June 12th, 2008 by Ajuan Mance

Earlier this week I blogged on the fact that in 2006 (the most recent year for which there are firm statistics) more Black students graduated from college than in any previous year in U.S. history.

It gave me a lot of pleasure to write a post that so strongly counters the widespread perception, even among African Americans, that Black youth are more violent, more delinquent, more disrespectful, more promiscuous, more truant, more addicted, more clueless than ever before.

For those who met with surprise the notion that the numbers of Black youth who are graduating from college is on the rise, here’s a related fact: in many areas, the negative exploits of Black youth are on the decline.

Late last week a number of U.S. and international news outlets broke the story that, overall, risky behaviors among U.S. teens are on the decline. Reuters reports that the results of a new CDC survey of over 14,000 Black, White, and Hispanic/Latino(a) teens in grades nine through 12 indicate that, “Fewer U.S. high school students are having sex or using drugs and alcohol compared to the 1990s.”

Among the study’s indicators that risky behaviors have declined among Black teens in particular are the following:

  • 66 percent of Black students in the study reporting having had sex, down from 82 percent in 1991.
  • 28 percent of Black students reporting having had sex with four or more partners, down from 43 percent in 1991.
  • Black involvement in sexual behavior is greater than either white or Hispanic/Latino(a) teens, but the declines in these areas are greater than those of white teens. There was little or no decline in either of these areas for Hispanic/Latino(a) teens.
  • Among Black youth, marijuana use has declined 7.1 percent since it’s peak in 1997.
  • Methamphetamine use, lower among Black youth than among white or Hispanic/Latino(a) youth has, nonetheless, declined from its peak of 3.1 percent of Black students reporting its use in 2003 to 1.9 percent in 2007, when the CDC survey took place.
  • Similarly, cigarette use, while lower among Black youth than among either their white or Hispanic/Latino(a) counterparts, has decreased just the same. Cigarette use has decreased from 22.7 percent at its peak in 1997, to 11.6 in 2007 (compared to 16.7 for Hispanic/Latino(a) students in 2007 and 23.2 percent for white students in 2007).
  • The same goes from alcohol use which, while lower among Black youth than among their white and Hispanic/Latino(a) counterparts, has decreased significantly. Alcohol use among Black students has decreased from a high of 42.5 percent in 1993 to only 34.5 percent in 2007. This number is considerably lower than both the proportion of Hispanic/Latino(a) students who have used alcohol (47.6 percent in 2007) and the proportion of white students who have used alcohol (47.3 percent in 2007).

To read the results of the 2007 CDC survey of over 14,000 Black, White, and Hispanic/Latino(a) youth, go to this link:

Posted by Ajuan Mance

Posted in African Americans, Black Youth, CDC, Current Events, Drug Use, Drugs, Risk, Sex, Teens, Uncategorized

One Response

  1. Mari-Djata

    This is great news! Thanks for the post!