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CDC: Teens putting themselves at risk

Many American teens are putting themselves at risk  
August 13, 1998
Web posted at: 10:06 p.m. EDT (0206 GMT)

(CNN) -- Adults may be living longer than ever in America, but just making it to adulthood is getting tougher, according to a new government report.

Many American teen-agers are putting themselves at risk for sexually transmitted diseases and early death.

"We roughly have death rates that are about 150 percent higher in the United States for 15- to 19-year-old females and males than those nations that have the lowest rates," said Lloyd Kolbe of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Car crashes, injuries from fights or weapons, murders and suicide top the list of causes of death.

The survey questioned 16,262 teen-agers on their use of tobacco, alcohol, other drugs, their sexual activity and physical activity.

The CDC study found about one in five teen-agers carries a weapon or drives after drinking alcohol. One in 10 teen-agers has attempted suicide.

Some states are responding to the risks teen-agers face. Massachusetts sponsors an AIDS hotline staffed by teens.

"It's a very safe, very confidential way to get information and to ask the questions you may not feel comfortable asking a sex ed teacher or your parent," said Sam Hanser of AIDS Action.

In Boston, a program called "Girls in Charge" teaches teen-age girls how to think through their sexual decisions.

"We don't tell them what they should and should not be doing," said Judah-Abijah Dorrington of "Girls in Charge." "We give them information and opportunities to discuss what is going on with them individually and in particular."

Experts say programs like this that listen to teens are a good step in the right direction, but the nation as a whole has a lot more work ahead in order to help children survive their youth.

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