Happy Teenagers Less Likely to Commit Crimes

Often teenagers are thought to be moody and withdrawn, but new research indicates that the benefits of a happy teen are more than just smiles and laughs.  The research shows that having a happy teen will help deter them from committing crime and using drugs.

EmaxHealth.com reports that Bill McCarthy, a UC-Davis sociology professor and Teresa Casey, a postdoctoral researcher, wrote a paper entitled “Get Happy! Positive Emotion, Depression and Juvenile Crime.”

The researchers found that about 29% of youth surveyed (15,000 teens in all) reported committing at least one criminal offense.  18% admitted to using at least one illegal drug.  After correlating these reports with self-assessments of emotional well-being, researchers found that teens who indicated that they were more depressed than happy were more likely to have been involved in crime or drug use compared to those who viewed themselves as being more often happy, reports EmaxHealth.com.  Even youth with minor depression were much more likely to commit crime or use drugs.

A study by Harris Interactive found that most kids between the ages of 13 and 18 define happiness as a state of being – “Simply being happy, no matter what I do.”  Most teens believe that happiness is an achievable goal.  In addition, parents can support kids by finding their own happiness.  Yet another study found that when parents were depressed or aggressive toward their children, depressive symptoms increased among the teens.  Poor parental behavior also predicted increases in depression.

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