BREAK THE HABIT Over the past decade, there has been a 30% surge in the number of U.S. teens who have taken up smoking. But there is hope. The American Lung Association last year initiated a program in schools called Not-on-Tobacco (800-LUNG-USA) to help teens address the reasons they smoke and aid them in dropping the habit. So far, the quitting rate of participating teens has been around 21%.
WHERE TO SIT? Front seat or back seat? Safety experts have been urging parents to buckle their kids into the back seat of family cars to protect them from exploding air bags during a collision. It turns out, however, that the back seat holds its own danger. In many U.S. vehicles, the front seats can collapse and snap back when a car is rear-ended, causing injury and even death to kids sitting directly behind. Officials say the back seat is still safest for youngsters, but suggest placing them behind unoccupied front seats or in the middle rear seat.
FAMILY PLANNING The U.S. has one of the highest teen-pregnancy rates among developed nations, and a recent study suggests that one factor may be the way U.S. youngsters are taught about sex. Teens in Sweden and the Netherlands get early and thorough school classes about sex and family planning--and have lower rates of teen pregnancy. U.S. youngsters get less instruction in these subjects at school, in part because of parental and political sensitivities.
--By Alice Park