Nevada Teens Report Their Risky Behaviors - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Nevada Teens Report Their Risky Behaviors

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The latest survey of teenage behavior in Nevada has been released, and it gives a picture of how much experience teens have with things like drugs, alcohol and sex.

Experts say teen years are full of temptations, from cigarettes, to alcohol to drugs. Executive Director of the Family Counseling Service in Reno, Stuart Gordon, says teens often try things that their friends are doing. "Teens do try smoking, teens do try drinking," said Gordon.

Statistics outlining risky behaviors can be frustrating for parents, who are already facing the roller coaster of raising teenagers. "There are ups and downs. Every time there's a change in friends, a change in school," Gordon explained.

Here is a sampling of some answers to the 2013 Nevada Youth Risk Survey-- which questioned nearly 4,000 high school students from 72 high schools around the Silver State.

                38% of those questioned report they've smoked cigarettes.

                67% say they've tried alcohol.

                43% say they've had sex at least once.

                31% say they have experienced depression within a year before the survey.

The purpose of the survey is to give experts a chance to look at trends and to see if interventions are working. But for parents these numbers could be a reminder to talk to your teen. "The ability to sit there and listen-- they sometimes don't want feedback, they just want someone to listen sometimes," says Gordon. He adds that parents can look for clues in their teenager's behavior. "I think it's always important to know who your kid's friends are, where they're going and what they're listening to," Gordon said.

Gordon looks at what teens are doing at school and at home. "If I'm seeing my child hanging out with a group of kids ever since they young and then all of a sudden they're hanging with a whole different group and you're worried about it, to be able to talk about it, because that abrupt change could mean something."

Experts say if your teen does want to talk, try to stay positive. "Instead of focusing on everything they do wrong, focusing on some of the right things, so we build up some self confidence in life," Gordon advised.

The authors of the study say they aren't able to compare results from the 2011 survey because they changed the methodology. They plan to use the figures to target intervention programs and work with educators and other agencies to help change risky behavior in Nevada teens.

Written by Jennifer Burton

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