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Teens face a variety of unique safety issues all their own. The transition to adulthood can be a rough one, riddled with traps at every turn. During childhood, parents only had to worry about their children doing dangerous things on accident. As teens, it’s not uncommon for them to seek out stupid, reckless or dangerous behavior on their own or at the bequest of their peers. This section explores issues related to safety and welfare, everything from driving risks to the reckless things teens do to each other.

How many teens die each year?

Around 13,000 adolescent deaths occur each year from combined causes. (Shute, 02/09)

There were 13,411 golf-cart injuries in 2006 that required emergency room treatment, including concussions, fractures and hemorrhages. The highest injury rates were among 10-19-year-olds. Many of these likely occurred while performing careless stunts in golf carts, something popularized by the ‘Jack-Ass’ movies.

At least 82 youths have died from playing ‘the choking game’ in recent years. (Honolulu Star Bulletin, 2-17-08) As many as 20% of teens and sometimes preteens play the game. Actual statistics are probably much higher, as many such deaths are ruled suicides. The game is played either alone or with friends, and involves intentional asphyxiation using hands or objects to get a euphoric high from the lack of-and then sudden rush- of blood to the brain.

Statistics on teen violence

The National Runaway Hotline for teens fields well over 100,000 calls each year, about 15,000 of which are teens trying to escape abusive situations in the home. (Irvine, 4-8-08)

David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center, reports that numerous ongoing studies show that social networking among teens doesn’t increase or create risk for sexual victimization. A study released in March 2009 by the center found no evidence whatsoever that online predators were stalking or abducting victims based on information posted on social networking sites. (Jayson, 4-2-09) This “online predator” problem that parents always hear about is nothing more than a media-created myth.

A recent 2009 survey found that one in four youths (27%) aged 14 to 17 were attacked by a peer other than a sibling within the past year. Nearly one in five of these, or 19%, suffered bruises, broken bones or worse from the assault. Five-percent reported being sexually assaulted, and 7% were attacked with a weapon. (Keen, 10-8-2009)

Fact: Teen boys are less likely than teen girls to think most illegal habits are dangerous.

15% of U.S. teenagers expect to die young, according to a survey of 20,000 teens. (Time, 7-13-09, p. 12)

58% of teen tanning bed users have suffered burns because of overexposure. (Szabo, 9/16/2010)

Around 35% of 17-year-old girls use tanning machines, even though people under 30 who use tanning machines increase their risk of skin cancer by 75%. (Szabo, 3-29-2010)

Teen driving safety statistics

Sixty-percent of teens admit to multi-tasking while driving. (Haupt, 5-19-08)

Two-thirds of teens involved in nighttime crashes are not wearing
seatbelts. (NBC Nightly News, 5-24-09)

In another survey, 83% of teenagers admitted to talking on a cell phone while driving, and 69% text, despite knowing that such behaviors are dangerous. (Mahoney, 2009)

48% of all teens say they have been in the car when the driver was texting. 40% say they have been in a car when the driver used a cell phone in a way that put themselves or others in danger. So who are these delinquents putting our children at risk? “We heard from many teens that it’s their parents who are texting or talking on the cell phone when they are driving,” says Amanda Lenhart, a senior research specialist with pew. 75% of teens ages 12-17 own a cell phone, along with 82% of 16-17-year-olds. Of these, 32% admit to texting while driving.  (Hellmich, 11-17-2009)

All told, around 75% of teens ages 12 to 17 own a cell phone, and 82% of those ages 16 to 17 do. Of these, 32% of 16-and 17-year-olds admitted to texting while driving.



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