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Adolescent Health

Overview

image of adolescents

During the transition from childhood to adulthood, adolescents establish patterns of behavior and make lifestyle choices that affect both their current and future health. Serious health and safety issues such as motor vehicle crashes, violence, substance use, and risky sexual behaviors can adversely affect adolescent and young adults.

Some adolescents also struggle to adopt behaviors that could decrease their risk of developing chronic diseases in adulthood, such as eating nutritiously, engaging in physical activity, and choosing not to use tobacco.

Environmental factors such as family, peer group, school, and community characteristics also contribute to adolescents' health and risk behaviors.

Societal Influences on Adolescents and Young Adults

Young people's behaviors are influenced at the individual, peer, family, school, community, and societal levels. Because many sectors of society contribute to adolescent health, safety, and well-being, a collaborative effort that engages multiple partners is necessary. Such joint efforts can also help to promote a more comprehensive approach to addressing adolescent health—one that views each adolescent as a whole person, recognizing and drawing upon his or her assets and not just focusing on risks.

To have the most positive impact on adolescent health, government agencies, community organizations, schools, and other community members must work together in a comprehensive approach. Providing safe and nurturing environments for our nation’s youth can help ensure that adolescents will be healthy and productive members of society.


Protective Factors

Protective factors are individual or environmental characteristics, conditions, or behaviors that reduce the effects of stressful life events. These factors also increase an individual’s ability to avoid risks or hazards, and promote social and emotional competence to thrive in all aspects of life, now and in the future.

Photo: teacher and two studentsSchool Connectedness: Strategies for Increasing Protective Factors Among Youth [pdf 1.7M] Strategies that teachers, administrators, other school staff, and parents can implement to increase the extent to which students feel connected to school.

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