Lynchburg Studies Risky Teen Behavior

Lynchburg, VA - After looking at a new study that looks at Lynchburg teen's behaviors, rResearchers say some areas like sexual issues are troubling. But other things, like tobacco use among teens, haven't changed much.

When it comes to engaging in risky behavior - tobacco use, alcohol, even extreme dieting -Lynchburg kids fall in line with the national average. But researchers say there is room for improvement. There's more to do in areas like alcohol and tobacco use.

Dr. Kerry Gateley is seeing more kids who know its wrong, but they still do it.

"I believe it's bad for me, but I'm doing it anyway, so obviously there's a lot more work to be done there," said Dr. Gateley, referencing the students' answers in the survey.

In the survey, Gateley also saw some silver linings, especially with physical health. It's clear, waistlines are getting bigger. In fact, 85% of 12th graders reported drinking a sugary soda in the last week. But on a good note, extreme dieting is on the way out.

"Physical activity hasn't changed, maybe it's gotten a lot worse. But, at least students aren't trying to control their weights with crash diets," said Gateley.

The findings come from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey. Last year, Lynchburg students in 6th, 9th and 12th grades took it. The survey is anonymous, and the results are revealing.

Anne Bond Gentry works in student services at Lynchburg City Schools. Trends like less than 40% of teens using a condom during sex are troubling. But, for every unsettling statistic, there's an opportunity to change it, even in the classroom.

"If we need to go back and look at our Family Life ed. curriculum again, then we'll do that, and make sure that information is getting to students," said Bond-Gentry.

Researchers say overall, the findings were positive. Students have been filling out these surveys every three years since 1999. The hope is to sit down this summer and hammer out trends now that Lynchburg has compiled more than a decade of data on risky teen behavior.