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Survey highlights Va. teens’ risky behaviors

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RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - The Virginia Department of Health wants to know what it’s like to be a modern teen. 

Data from a survey of 1,440 high school students across the Commonwealth was released Friday, revealing trends in risky behaviors that teenagers are prone to participate in.

“The purpose is to identify student’s health behaviors.  What sort of things are they doing to promote health, and what sort of things are they doing that put them at risk?” said  Dr. Diana Helentjaris of the Virginia Department of Health.

This is the first time the Department of Health has released data from the survey that was administered in 2011.

The survey found that 15 percent of high school students said they had smoked cigarettes in the 30 days prior to the survey. However, 18 percent said they had smoked marijuana, and 30 percent said they had at least one alcoholic beverage in the same time period. 

Officials with the Department of Health said they hope having a better idea of the lifestyle Virginia teens are living will help parents and prevention organizations better communicate the dangers associated with risky behavior like drug and alcohol abuse.

“We need to, as a community and a country, push the evidence that this is not normal,” said John Lewis with the Richmond Behavioral Health Authority.  “This is not a proper right of passage.”

Click here to see the full summary of the survey.