It may be tougher than ever to be a young person in America. Yes, these kids today have conveniences and technology that some previous...

It may be tougher than ever to be a young person in America.

Yes, these kids today have conveniences and technology that some previous generations could hardly have imagined – cellphones, computers, cable TV.

But two Georgia newspapers have reported on two areas in which threats to adolescent health appear greater than ever.

The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer discusses the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse among teens in separate articles – here and here.

And the Rome News-Tribune posted an article Monday on bullying and its effect on kids.

These two problems have existed in some form for a long time.

Yet the bullying appears rougher these days, and now it has an Internet component. Devices and networks that have made preteens and teens more accessible to friends have made them more vulnerable to bullying.

“It can severely affect the victim’s self-image, social interactions and school performance, often leading to insecurity, lack of self-esteem and depression in adulthood,’’ the Rome article says. “School dropout rates and absences among victims of bullying are much higher than among other students.’’

The drug temptations are varied, from synthetic pot to real marijuana, from meth to alcohol to prescription medication abuse. Recent studies suggest adolescents are particularly vulnerable to the long-term “neurotoxic” effects from heavy use of drugs like marijuana and alcohol, the Columbus articles say.

A 2011 survey reported that 33 percent of eighth-graders and 70 percent of 12th-graders had tried alcohol.

One important strategy is to educate youths and parents on the dangers of bullying and drugs.

Community by community, these problems represent a battle that needs to be fought.

Our kids need our help.

Here are a CDC fact sheet about bullying and links to alcohol and drug data for teens.

 


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Andy Miller

Andy Miller is editor and CEO of Georgia Health News

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