Parents & Teens Working Together To Protect The Health Of Teens

An apple sitting next to a stack of booksThe teenage years are a time for young people to learn and adopt healthy behaviors that will last a lifetime. Parents, schools, and communities tend to focus on preventing risky behaviors among youth, such as having sex at an early age, using tobacco, or drinking alcohol. However, a growing amount of research suggests that there is also value in promoting protective factors, which can help young people avoid risky behaviors, reduce the effects of stressful life events, and maintain or improve their health.  CDC has identified three important areas—school connectedness, parent engagement, and positive parenting practices—that can help teens lead healthy, productive lives.

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School Connectedness

School connectedness is the belief held by students that adults and peers care about them and their learning. Research shows that young people who feel connected to school are less likely to engage in risky behaviors and are more likely to have high grades and test scores, have better attendance, and stay in school. Schools can do many things to promote school connectedness including encouraging students to speak openly about their ideas, needs, and worries to parents and teachers; holding regular meetings between parents and teachers; and providing opportunities for students to work with adults, such as mentoring programs.

Parent Engagement in Schools

Parent engagement in schools involves parents and school staff working together to support and improve the learning, development, and health of teens. Much like school connectedness, parent engagement is closely linked to higher grades and fewer risky health behaviors. Parent engagement in schools is a shared responsibility in which schools reach out to parents in meaningful ways, and parents actively support their teen’s learning and development. To promote parent engagement, schools need to connect with parents, engage them in school-related activities, and sustain frequent communication with parents throughout the school year.