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Teens are worse off than reported

June 04, 2007

Re "The kids are (mostly) all right," Opinion, May 27

Mike Males' reassuring article about young people in America implies that our teens are in far better shape than they actually are. Credible research shows that about 5 1/2 million teens have been in counseling over the last year, that more money is now being spent on psychoactive drugs for teens than on all other prescription medication combined and that there are more than 2 million attempted suicides by American teens each year -- a number that remains stubbornly high.

Emergency room and hotline data suggest dramatic increases in drug use by teens in some categories, and a recent White House report shows a dramatic increase in the use of illegal prescription drugs. Only one in three high school seniors is now considered competent in reading, and only one in four is competent in math.

ROBERT EPSTEIN

Visiting scholar

Department of Psychology

UC San Diego

The writer, a former editor in chief of Psychology Today, is the author of "The Case Against Adolescence: Rediscovering the Adult in Every Teen."

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