Conn. Study Ties Teens’ Risky Behavior, Drunk Driving to Race

April 10, 2007

White teenagers in Connecticut are more likely to drive drunk, and black and Hispanic teens are more likely to engage in risky sex, according to a study by the nonprofit Connecticut Voices for Children.

The stud looks at racial and ethnic differences in risky teen behavior, using data from the 2005 Connecticut School Health Survey, a review of health behavior of 2,256 Connecticut high school students.

The survey found that white students were twice as likely to drive drunk as nonwhite teens, and were also 1.6 times more likely to acknowledge binge drinking.

Twenty percent of white students said they smoke cigarettes, compared to 11 percent of black students and 15 percent of Hispanic students, according to the stud.

The group also found that black and Hispanic teens are more likely than white teens to have had sexual intercourse, four or more sexual partners and engage in sexual intercourse before the age of 13.

About one-third of black and Hispanic students were overweight or at risk of being overweight, compared with about one-quarter of white students, according to the data.

“Some risk taking is a normal part of adolescent development,” said Priscilla Canny, Connecticut Voices’ director of research and the study’s co-author. “Knowing more about the unhealthy risk behaviors of different communities of youth will help to more effectively target our education and prevention programs.”

The study also found that better performance in school and increased parental involvement are linked to reduced prospects of high risk behaviors.

Students whose parents knew their whereabouts said they were much less likely to smoke, binge drink, have early sex and engage in fighting, according to the study. Students getting poor grades were more than twice as likely as students earning mostly A’s and B’s to have had four or more sexual partners, researchers said.


Information from: The Hartford Courant,

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