This article is from the archive of our partner .

Breaking news: teenagers don't always tell the truth. According to NPR, new research shows that adolescent students often lie on surveys they're given in school, just to make themselves laugh. And, well, duh – they're teens. 

The report from the American Educational Research Association dubs these liars "mischievous responders," students who "provide extreme, and potentially untruthful, responses to multiple questions." The questions they're referring to are on those anonymous surveys that are often administered in schools asking stuff like drug use, sex, etc. – all those gritty teen things that parents are worried their child is getting into. It turns out that when you tell teenagers to answer questions anonymously, though, they tend not to answer truthfully. I, a teenager once myself, can confirm this. Shamefully, I admit I lied on such surveys. 

The problem, apparently, is that those lies skew survey results. NPR reports:

 In a 2003 study, 19 percent of teens who claimed to be adopted actually weren't, according to follow-up interviews with their parents ... In yet another survey, fully 99 percent of 253 students who claimed to use an artificial limb were just kidding.

Well obviously. Teens are prone to rampant embellishment and grandiose claims. That's how most of these "teens are doing what now?" panics tend to get started. At Gawker, Max Read runs through the list of them: pharm drug parties, rainbow lipstick oral sex parties, sex bracelets. None of these are actual things, just the products of teens spreading rumors and gossip and parents biting. Caitlin Flanagan, in an article discussing "casual" oral sex at The Atlantic several years ago, notes "the current oral-sex hysteria, which presupposes not only that a limitless number of young American girls have taken on the sexual practices of porn queens but also that American boys are capable of having an infinite number of sexual experiences in rapid succession." In other words: of course teens want you to think they're having crazy sex parties. 

Whether you're asking about blow-jobs, criminal activity, or even physical attributes ("They may say they're 7 feet tall, or weigh 400 pounds," according to NPR), teens are going to lie to you. That's just what they do, mostly because it's funny. If you start taking teenagers at their word, you end up with an Onion article

Photo by michaeljung via Shutterstock.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.