Every year, the Department of Human Services surveys all the Oregon public school 8th and 11th graders about a handful of personal questions. They use the results to monitor mental health and substance abuse but for everyone the data is a treasure trove of juicy details telling us what those kids these days are up to. And they just released the 2008 8th graders report!
What do you want to know? How about how many 8th graders are actually having sex? According to them, 17.4 percent of Oregon 8th graders have had intercourse, the majority of them with only one partner. That's about the same as the stats for last year, though there's a slight gender split for both years: 16 percent of females have had sex (I feel weird using the word "female", but neither "girl" nor "woman" seems right and besides, this is science) versus about 19 percent of males ("guys").
edit: Wm. Steve Humphrey points out that the survey includes only "intercourse" as sex excluding us from knowing, sadly, the 8th grade handjob/blow job percentages these days.
Among those who had sex, 20 percent said drugs or alcohol were involved (last year was 25 percent) and 30 percent didn't use a condom... though it looks like nine percent of those condomless kids tried some sort of other birth control method, like the Pill or withdrawal. Thanks to budget cuts, not all Oregon junior highs have sex ed. That means a good number of those young males and females having sex won't learn about birth control in school for at least another year.
So what about drugs and booze? Adults are always writing about teens using the drugs and the booze, but what do the teens themselves think of it all? Turns out they view cigarettes as a bigger danger than alcohol. Here's the percentage of 8th graders who think using these substances is "very wrong":
cigarettes - 68%
alcohol - 59.8%
marijuana - 73%
LSD, coke, meth - 87.9%
And in a slam on the police - or just evidence that the 21+ drinking age is impossible to enforce - only 23 percent strongly believe that the police would catch someone their age drinking in the neighborhood. About 20 percent say that's "not true at all."
The survey's nutrition section also reveals that 15.5 percent of 8th graders didn't eat a single vegetable in the week before the survey and 34 percent only ate fruit 1-3 times. WTF?
The DHS's website is tough to navigate, but if you follow their cryptic links you might stumble onto how to look through the data yourself.