Published 2:18 pm Thursday, August 27, 2009

By Staff
As if the teenage years are not difficult enough, along comes a report that finds many of North Carolina’s teenagers face many challenges when it comes to becoming healthy adults.
After child-advocacy groups and medical-advocacy groups reviewed the data in the report, prepared by the North Carolina Metamorphosis Project, they said on Tuesday that too many teenagers lack health insurance and don’t graduate from high school within four years of beginning high school. The report also noted that 38 percent of teenagers evaluated said they drank alcoholic beverages with the past month and the rate of sexually transmitted diseases among teenagers has increased.
That information should worry teenagers, their parents and the public. The consumption of alcoholic beverages by teenagers should be a cause to worry for at least two reasons. First, teenagers who drink to excess may get behind the wheel of a vehicle and drive. That often is a fatal combination. Second, anyone under the age of 21 who consumes alcoholic beverages is breaking the law.
As for the rise in sexually transmitted diseases, the dangers there speak for themselves. Such diseases can rob a teenager of the ability to reproduce in later years. Such diseases can cause serious health problems. Such diseases can cause death.
There is some good news, according to the report. The use of tobacco products among teenagers is down, and more teenagers are providing volunteer work in their communities.
Trying to tell teenagers, who often think of themselves as invincible, that certain choices they make can kill them may seem futile at times. It’s an effort that must be made over and over until at least some teenagers get the message.
For those teenagers who don’t heed that message, they often become examples to their peers — examples of the consequences of wrong choices. Those examples show other teenagers they are not invincible.
Teenagers should worry about acne, not AIDS. Teenagers should worry about what to wear to the prom, not whether they’ve had too much too drink and if they should drive somewhere.
The report’s findings are disturbing. Those findings let us know the battle to protect teenagers from themselves and outside influences continues.
It’s a battle that must be won.