Adolescent Connectedness Has Lasting Effects
Youth Connectedness Is an Important Protective Factor for Health and Well-being
Connectedness refers to a sense of being cared for, supported, and belonging, and can be centered on feeling connected to school, family (i.e. parents and caregivers), or other important people and organizations. School and family connectedness are linked to reductions in multiple health risk behaviors during adolescence.1
Feeling more connected in their schools and to their families during adolescence resulted in as much as a 48% to 66% lower risk of poor health outcomes in adulthood, depending on the specific health outcome, including:
- About a 65% reduction in lifetime prescription drug misuse and other illicit drug use.
- 54% reduction in ever having been diagnosed with an STD.
- 51% reduction in having been the victim of physical violence in the last 12 months.
Increasing both family and school connectedness during adolescence has the potential to promote overall health in adulthood.1
CDC findings published in Pediatricsexternal icon suggest that youth who feel connected at home and at school were less likely to experience health risk behaviors related to mental health, violence, sexual health, and substance use in adulthood.
Youth Experience Health Risks
Among U.S. high school students who participated in the 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey2:
- 32% persistently felt sad or hopeless
- 17% have seriously considered attempting suicide
- 14% made a suicide plan
- 46% did not use a condom during last sex
- 7% were forced to have sex
- 9% have had four or more lifetime sex partners
- 19% have been bullied at school
- 14% have ever misused prescription pain medicine
Youth experience multiple health risks and those health risks can contribute to poor health outcomes in adulthood. Therefore, it’s important that we also promote protective factors that can reduce health risks, both during the adolescent years and long term.1
Recommendations for Schools, Families, and Healthcare Providers
There are concrete steps schools, families, and healthcare providers can take to promote connectedness among youth.
Healthcare Providers Can:
- Ask adolescents about family relationships and school experiences as a part of routine health screenings.
- Encourage positive parenting practices.
- Engage parents in discussions about how to connect with their adolescents, communicate effectively, and monitor activities and health behaviors.
- Educate parents and youth about adolescent development and health risks.
What CDC is Doing
CDC Support Increases Implementation of Effective Interventions
CDC works with other federal agencies, national nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), education agencies, health organizations, and youth-serving organizations to promote connectedness and reduce negative health outcomes by:
- Funding education agencies to increase school and family connectedness.
- Supporting schools in the implementation of connectedness strategies, policies, and activities.
- Providing tools and resources for schools and families to help promote the importance of family and school connectedness.
- Fostering School Connectedness: Information for School Districts and School Administrators pdf icon[PDF – 2 MB]
- Fostering School Connectedness: Information for Teachers and Other School Staff pdf icon[PDF – 1 MB]
- Helping Your Child Feel Connected to School: Information for Parents and Families pdf icon[PDF – 1 MB]
- Positive Parenting Practices
- Promoting Parent Engagement: Information for School Districts and School Administrators pdf icon[PDF – 852 KB]
- Promoting Parent Engagement: Information for Teachers and Other School Staff pdf icon[PDF – 747 KB]
- Ways to Engage Your Child’s School: Information for Parents and Families pdf icon[PDF – 724 KB]
- Monitoring Your Teens Activities What Parents and Families Should Know pdf icon[PDF – 320 KB]
- Talking to Your Teens about Sex: Going Beyond “the Talk” pdf icon[PDF – 1 MB]
- Teen Health Services and One on One time with a Healthcare Provider: An Infobrief for Parents pdf icon[PDF – 310 KB]
- Steiner RJ, Sheremenko G, Lesesne C, et al. Adolescent Connectedness and Adult Health Outcomesexternal icon. Pediatrics. 2019;144(1):e20183766
- Kann, L., McManus, T., Harris, W. A., et al. (2018). Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance—United States, 2017. MMWR Surveillance Summary, 67(8), 1-479.