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Sex Starved Teens ##TOP##

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Dave Davies, in for Terry Gross. Last December, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy issued a special advisory about what he called an alarming increase in the mental health challenges facing American teenagers. Studies show that rates of depression, anxiety, self-harm and suicide have risen sharply in recent years among adolescents. Our guest, New York Times reporter Matt Richtel, has spent nearly two years reporting on the dimensions of this crisis - interviewing teens and parents about their experiences, visiting emergency rooms where teens in crisis spend multiple days in exam rooms waiting for an opening in treatment. And he spoke to pediatricians struggling to help families with these issues because there simply aren't enough mental health treatment options available to them.

sex starved teens

In a series of articles in The Times, Richtel also explores possible causes of the crisis. While there's no clear consensus among experts on the root of the problem, there is research that provides important insights into the nature of teens' suffering and some treatments that show promise. Matt Richtel has been with The New York Times since 2000, where he's focused on science, technology and business. In 2010, he won the Pulitzer Prize for national reporting for a series on the hazardous use of cell phones, computers and other devices while driving. He's written several books, including one published this past spring titled "Inspired: Understanding Creativity." His series about the mental health crisis among American teens is available online. It's called "The Inner Pandemic."

DAVIES: Right. So there are a lot of elements to this story. That's - it's - you've spent nearly two years on it. So maybe we could begin with you telling us a story - one of the teens that you got to know well, just so we get a sense of what this looks like in real life.

DAVIES: This is FRESH AIR. I am Dave Davies, in for Terry Gross. We're speaking with Matt Richtel, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for The New York Times. He's spent much of the last two years reporting on an emerging mental health crisis among American teenagers. Three decades ago, the public health threats to teens came from binge drinking, drunk driving, pregnancy and smoking. They've all fallen, Richtel reports, but rates of depression, self-harm and suicide have risen sharply. Richtel's series about the dimensions of the crisis and possible causes is "The Inner Pandemic." You can find it online.

RICHTEL: I mentioned this in the opening, but Black adolescents are seeing huge spikes in suicide attempts. It was from a relatively low number to begin with, but it's the fastest, sharpest upward curve of any ethnic group. That said, there are a lot of positives I took from this series, and one of them was how I got to know a lot more about teens of color. And it was through this really remarkable place I got to bear witness to. It's a clinic held on Tuesdays in Atlanta run by the psychiatrists for Morehouse Medical School. This medical clinic is kind of the exception that proves the rule. Most poor teens of color do not have access to specialty medical care. But here in Atlanta, through this program, this Tuesday clinic, they do, and the insights they provide are searing and powerful and really opened my eyes.

RICHTEL: Precisely. And this was the big walkaway from this clinic, which is that they are often seeing kids diagnosed with disorders of hostility and aggression that may be something else. All of the psychiatrists are Black. And the head of the clinic, Dr. Sarah Vinson, who's this sort of growing luminary in the field, says it's not that you need to be Black to diagnose these kids, but you have to be aware of the structural racism and implicit bias in these kids' lives that can lead to diagnoses that may be wrong and put them on the wrong medications. And so this clinic becomes, as I say, the exception that proves the rule where a group of doctors hyper aware of these issues is probably getting to more precise and accurate diagnoses than they may be getting in settings where there just aren't - there is no specialty care. Just a last note, Dr. Omade, who saw this 17-year-old, winds up saying to him, listen, man to man and Black man to Black man, these are issues we all face. And that was really telling to me about the kind of care and ability to listen to a community that teens of color often are starved for.

Rape should be defined precisely but in simple language and divided into grades. Age limit for marriage may be altered to realistic figures. Age for consent for sexual act may be lowered. Age of maturity should be lowered, and protection to juveniles should be terminated in case of heinous crimes. Policy for alcohol consumption and other drug addictions may be modified. Slum clearance will induce better behaviour of teens and adults. Judicial reforms are needed for quick and correct decisions. Media should stop glorifying crime. Special attention should be paid to curb exhibition of violent and excessive sexual episodes. Sex education should be compulsory. Sex workers may be registered, and their health should be checked. We will discuss the issues based on scientific facts and ground realities.

Health education depicting damage to social, physical, financial, and moral fiber of the community due to alcohol consumption should be stressed. Stricter measures should be undertaken to enforce prohibition for teens and vehicle driving. Wider use of breathanalyser would be helpful. Females should be cautioned regarding danger of alcohol intake at innocent-looking parties. Direct and indirect advertisement of hard drinks must be stopped.

Industrial workers migrate from home towns/villages, often from faraway places. Males do not bring their wives. They are sex starved. This phenomenon may contribute towards increased incidence of sex crimes. Some of the industries do provide quarters for their employees, but a large population resides in slums. If all industrial undertakings provide residential units for their employees, it will have a significant impact on crimes including sex. 041b061a72


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