The Guardian (London) (04.25.12) - Thursday, April 26, 2012
Britain ranks third-highest for early teenage sexual activity,
according to new studies published in The Lancet. This
research and a just-released UNICEF report both make the case
for more attention to the needs of youths.
Data from 40 comparably affluent countries ranked England
fourth-highest for adolescents who had been drunk by age 13;
Wales ranked fifth, and Scotland eighth. Wales also ranked
third for weekly drinking by 15-year-olds. England ranked
fourth, with Scotland at eighth.
The United States' violent death rate for adolescents is 10 to
20 times greater than that of other developed countries;
Britain ranked in the middle for this indicator. US binge-
drinking rates were high, and its cannabis use rate topped all
high-income countries supplying data.
Professor Susan Sawyer of Murdoch Children's Research
Institute and Professor George Patton of the University of
Melbourne in Australia maintain that earlier puberty and later
marrying have delayed societal transition to adulthood,
expanding years of experimentation, substance and alcohol
abuse, and early and unsafe sex. Inadequate education and
employment prospects also play a role.
The professors assert that "marketing of unhealthy products
and lifestyles" targets young people, and that habits begun
young result in 70 percent of premature adult deaths. The
empowering benefits of social media were noted as coming with
inherent potential harms like cyberbullying, pornography,
sexually explicit texting, copycat suicides, self-harm, and
Upwards of 2.6 million 10- to 24-year-olds died in 2004. Most
deaths were due to injuries (including traffic accidents and
suicides); pregnancy and childbirth; communicable,
nutritional, and perinatal diseases (like tuberculosis and
HIV/AIDS); and non-communicable diseases (like diabetes and
cancer). Most of these deaths were preventable.