Teenagers: Why Do They Rebel?
The Truth About Statistics
Yet it is a myth that all teenagers are big risk-takers, says
Bobrow at New York University.
- Over half of teenagers will experiment with alcohol, which means nearly
half will not.
- Roughly 40% of teenagers will try drugs at least once, which means 60%
- Even fewer teens regularly use illegal substances -- less than 25% of those
who try them -- which means the majority do not.
"Parents are concerned that kids who try drugs use them on
a regular basis, but that isn't always the case," she tells WebMD.
Indeed, there's evidence of a decline in teenage sexual
experimentation, says Elkind. The pregnancy
rate has gone down. "I'm not sure if it's threat of AIDS or sex education.
At any rate, those signs are good," he says. "Also, laws in many states
require parental consent laws for an abortion. That may have
Also, teen crime statistics have stabilized, although they have
taken a different twist. "We're finding that girls are involved in the same
crimes as boys are, like armed robbery," says Elkind. "Girls are
involved in carjacking, car stealing, which used to be exclusively boy
Unfortunately, Elkind adds, the rates of sexually transmitted
disease have not declined among teenagers.
Of course, the fact that all teenagers aren't as wild as some
people imagine doesn't necessarily help create peace in your home. Even the
most balanced teenagers are arguing and challenging their parents, sometimes on
a daily basis.
So what can you, the parent, do to keep your relationship
strong during these turbulent years?
Spend time together, say the experts.
- Offer to drive. You'll learn a lot about your teenager and her friends if
you drive the kids home from a concert or a dance.
- Watch TV or a video together. "I think a lot of parents don't feel
comfortable bringing up some issues," says Bodrow. "TV or a movie can
provide great jumping-off material -- a good opening for parents to open up a
subject they need to discuss."
"The bottom line is communication -- and not just at times
of disapproval, discipline," says Bodrow. "Make sure you communicate
with your child when you're proud, when he did a good job. It's important to
balance that out. Otherwise, it becomes 'why are you always nagging me, always
on my back.'"
Originally published on August 11. 2003.