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Sexual activity is down, but among teens having sex, condom use is also down.
In most other measures, the general trend for teens and risk is either about the same or going towards less risky, except in the areas of mental health. The percentage of students who feel persistently sad and hopeless; those who have considered suicide attempts; and those who were injured in suicide attempts has all risen.
And similar to the study done a decade ago, teens who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual have significantly more difficulty. They are:
- More than twice as likely to experience electronic bullying
- About twice as likely to be bullied on school grounds
- Nearly three times as likely to have been forced to have sex
- About 2.5 times more likely to be feeling persistently sad and hopeless
- More than three times as likely to have attempted suicide, and more than four times as likely to have been seriously injured as a result of an attempt.
So, it looks like there is some work to do! What can libraries do to help improve prospects for teen mental health? How can we provide safe spaces for LGBTQIA+ kids (note that the study only discusses teens who identify as LGB)? What can we do through our collections, displays, programs, outreach/engagement efforts, and, most importantly, relationships with individual teens? I know many of you are doing awesome things already!
Hopefully you will be reading in this blog in August or September about cool programs in Ladysmith and Balsam Lake about empowering programs for teens (the programs are happening, I am hoping to get a blog post about them!). And also about a teen diversity club (specifically aimed at LGBTQIA+ teens) in Polk County. Wow! I can't wait to hear more.