Division of Adolescent and School Health
The mission of CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health (DASH) is to prevent HIV, other STDs, and teen pregnancy and promote lifelong health among youth.
To achieve its mission, DASH uses the following key strategies:
- Using school-based surveillance systems to measure the prevalence of health risk behaviors among adolescents and monitor school health policies and practices to prevent them.
- Fostering the delivery of high-quality, evidence-based sexual health education.
- Providing scientific guidance on effective policies and programs to prevent HIV, STDs, and teen pregnancy.
- Increasing youth access to sexual health services, including contraceptives and HIV and STD counseling, testing, and treatment.
- Establishing healthy school environments where all youth feel safe and supported, including LGBTQ adolescents and others at disproportionate risk for HIV and other STDs.
- Helping children and adolescents become more resilient by promoting factors that can protect them from risks, such as effective parenting and strong family and school connections.
DASH works closely with the Division of Population Health’s School Health Branch (SHB) to improve adolescent health through school health programs. SHB’s mission is to prevent chronic disease and promote the health and well-being of children and adolescents through schools.
Schools: The Right Place for a Healthy Start
Research has shown that school health programs can reduce the prevalence of health risk behaviors among young people and have a positive effect on academic performance. Schools offer a place for students to practice healthy behaviors such as eating healthy foods and participating in physical activity. Schools also play a critical role in promoting the health and safety of young people and helping them establish lifelong healthy behaviors.
About the Division of Adolescent and School HealthPrint Version [pdf 523K]
Risk Behaviors Are Established Early in Life
Establishing healthy behaviors during childhood and maintaining them is easier and more effective than trying to change unhealthy behaviors during adulthood.
Six types of health risk behaviors contribute to the leading causes of death, disability, and social problems in the United States:
- Unhealthy eating
- Inadequate physical activity
- Tobacco use
- Alcohol and other drug use
- Sexual behaviors that can result in HIV infection, other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and unintended pregnancy
- Behaviors that contribute to unintentional injury and violence
These behaviors are often established during childhood or adolescence, persist into adulthood, and are preventable. School health programs supported by DASH focus on health risk behaviors and other key health issues, such as asthma and mental health, that most affect the overall health and well-being of students.
A Coordinated School Health Approach
Schools by themselves cannot solve the nation’s most serious health and social problems. However, schools have a critical role to play, in partnership with community agencies and organizations, to improve the health and well-being of young people. One approach recommended by DASH is coordinated school health (CSH). DASH uses the eight-component CSH model as an organizing framework for its school health guidelines, surveillance systems, recommendations for promising practices, and research application tools. Many states and cities have embraced the CSH model to guide their school health efforts.
DASH Leadership and Support
DASH supports state, local, territorial, and tribal education and health agencies; large urban school districts; and national organizations to help schools implement school health programs that emphasize HIV, STD, and unintended pregnancy prevention.
DASH also supports the efforts of state, territorial, and local agencies to implement science-based, cost-effective adolescent and school health programs by undertaking the following:
- Monitoring health risk behaviors and school health policies and programs
- Supporting the efforts of national nongovernmental organizations to provide capacity-building assistance to education and health agencies, community-based organizations, institutions of higher education, and other organizations to help schools and communities improve health and educational outcomes among children and adolescents.
- Analyzing research findings to develop guidelines for addressing priority health risk behaviors among students and creating tools to help schools implement these guidelines.
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- Adolescent and School Health
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
4770 Buford Highway, Northeast, Mailstop K-27
Atlanta, GA 30341
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