They're doing fewer drugs and having fewer babies. They spend more hours on the Internet and more dollars at the mall. Here's a by-the-numbers look at the Class of 2000, and teens in general:
SMOKING: Last year, 22 percent of high-school seniors said they had smoked cigarettes daily in the previous month-a slight decrease from 1997 but still above a 1992 low of 17 percent, says the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research. DRUGS: In 1980, 37 percent of seniors said they had used illegal drugs in the previous month. In 1992, that number hit a low of 14 percent, then rose steadily to 26 percent by 1997. Last year, the figure stayed around 26 percent, says the Institute for Social Research. ALCOHOL: The number of high-school seniors saying they have consumed alcohol in the past month remained fairly steady in the 1990s-53 percent in 1997, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. BABIES: For every 1,000 U.S. women ages 15 to 19, there were 97 pregnancies in 1996, a decline of 17 percent from 117 per 1,000 in 1990, according to the Alan Guttmacher Institute. The abortion rate was 29 per 1,000 teenage women, a 31 percent decline since 1986. DROPOUTS: The Census Bureau says 4 percent of high-school students dropped out in 1997, down from 5 percent in 1995 and 7 percent in 1979. The 1997 dropout rate was 4 percent for whites, 5 percent for blacks, and 9 percent for Hispanics. YOUNG CRIMINALS: In the 1980s, the number of serious violent crimes committed by youths ages 12 to 17 fluctuated between 29 and 40 per 1,000 youths. It peaked in 1993 at 52 crimes per 1,000 youths, but dropped steadily to 31 per 1,000 in 1997, says the U.S. Justice Department. YOUNG VICTIMS: In 1997, 3 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds reported being victims of serious violent crime such as aggravated assault, rape, or robbery, the Justice Department says. In the 1980s the rate was between 3 and 4 percent. Still, youths are nearly three times more likely than adults to be victims of violent crime. CYBERSPACE: Eighty-three percent of teens say they've gone online, and more than one-third own a computer, says Teenage Research Unlimited. SPENDING: Teens spent about $141 billion in 1998, an increase of 16 percent over 1997, according to Teenage Research Unlimited. They earned about $121 billion last year, making up the $20 billion gap mostly with money from their parents.