LatinaLista — It’s bad enough that young people have enough stress in their lives on a daily basis but according to this year’s Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) report, Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance — United States, 2011, youth, especially Latino youth, are adding to that stress with some bad choices.
The CDC reports that 72 percent of all deaths among youth ages 10-24 stem from four causes: motor vehicle crashes (26%), other unintentional injuries (17%), homicide (16%), and suicide (13%). The rest are attributed to a mix of bad habits — smoking, drug use, poor diet, no exercise — all things that are among the leading contributors to death in adulthood.
Yet, the CDC’s report shows that when it comes to poor choices, Latino youth either lead the way in some categories or come in at a close second. These choices aren’t just setting them up for a future filled with health problems but putting their lives at risk in the present:
- Hispanic (92.1%) boys and females (92.0%) have rarely or never worn a bicycle helmet. Black youth rank higher in not wearing a helmet (92.3%).
- Latinos (9.3%) and girls (8.4%) rarely or ever wear a seatbelt. In contrast, black youth come in at (10.3%) and girls (8.0%).
- Latino and Latina youth both exhibit the highest prevalence of riding with a driver who had been drinking alcohol — Hispanic males (30.7%) and Hispanic female (30.7%).
- Hispanic males (11.5%) and Hispanic females (7.8%) rank the highest at having driven a car when drinking alcohol.
- Hispanic male (35.2%) and Hispanic females (26.3%) rank as the worst offenders in texting and emailing while driving.
- Latinos (24.5%) rank behind white males (27.2%) and Latinas (7.5%) and black girls (7.5%) are prone to carrying a weapon.
- More Latino boys (8.5%) and Latinas (9.6%) rank the highest as not gone to school on at least 1 day during the 30 days before the survey because they felt they would be unsafe at school or on their way to or from school.
- More Latino boys (30.7%) and Hispanic females (27.8%) are likelier to experience having property stolen or damaged on school property.
- Hispanic females (41.4%) and Hispanic male (24.4%) students rank the highest among their peers for having felt sad or hopeless almost every day for 2 or more weeks in a row prior to the survey being taken.
- Latinas (21%) rank the highest among all peers in contemplating suicide.
- Both Hispanic male (11.1%) and female (17.6%) students rank the highest in creating a suicide plan.
The list of questionable and risky behaviors where Latino youth are leading their peers goes on and it’s a shocking snapshot that shows a youth in crisis and crying out for help. From these sad statistics, we can surmise that Latino youth are feeling victimized, either mentally or physically, more so than white or black students.
The question has to be asked, “why?”
Until there are definitive answers, more Latino youth will suffer needlessly — and have the dubious distinction of coming in first for all the wrong reasons.