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Report: fewer teens involved in risky behavior

Hermantown Middle School students ready to launch weather balloon (NWS photo)
Hermantown Middle School students ready to launch weather balloon (NWS photo)

MADISON, Wis (WSAU-Wheeler News) Today's Wisconsin high school students smoke less, drink less, and have less sex than teens did 20 years ago. That's according to the new Youth Risk Behavior Survey from the state Department of Public Instruction.

One of every three high school youngsters surveyed in 2013 said they recently had a drink -- down from half in 1993. Thirty-three percent said they tried cigarettes, way down from 64-percent in the early '90's. Thirty-five percent of last year's students admitted having sex, down from 47-percent two decades earlier -- and two-thirds used condoms. Officials attribute that to better health education -- and they said high cigarette taxes keep more kids from smoking.

However, the survey shows that lots of teens engage in more modern risks. Over half of Wisconsin juniors-and-seniors have texted while driving, and 15-percent admitted driving after having alcohol. The percentage of teens playing on computers or video games for at least three hours a day jumped from 20-percent to 34. Over half of girls believe that bullying and student harassment are problems at their schools -- and a third of the boys feel the same way.

The state has given 88 mini-grants to schools to try and fight these risky behaviors. The grants totaled $85,000 last year. Alcohol offenders covered most of those costs with their fines.

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