Teens and their Well-Being


People of a certain age will remember John Hughes films of the 80s. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Pretty in Pink. The Breakfast Club. 16 Candles. All dealt with teen life, including the characters’ triumphs and trials. 

New data from the Pew Research Center show that life as a teen has not gotten any easier. If anything, things have gotten harder. 

The organization collected data from 13 to 17-year olds. Several key findings emerged. 

First, about one in eight teens report having major depressive episodes over the past year. This is up 8 percent from just 6 years earlier. 

Drugs and alcohol are also a concern. To be sure, fewer teens consume alcohol than in the past, but at 30 percent, the figure is still substantial. About one in five use marijuana and 6 percent have used other illicit drugs. 

Boys and girls in high school also face bullying on a regular basis. Much of the time this is on school property, but they also experience it online. Girls are more likely than boys to experience such mistreatment. 

Poverty also remains a concern. About one in six teens live in poverty, and this has increased over time, especially among Whites. 

Luckily, the Pew Report did include some positive information. Gangs in schools have decreased, as has teen pregnancy. The latter is true for all racial groups. 

And other reports from Pew Research Center show that teens are likely to be better educated than their parents.

Collectively, the data show that teens experience complex worlds, with many pressures. All the more reason to keep in mind Ferris Bueller’s advice: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”