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.

Positive Parenting Practices

Positive parenting practices complement school connectedness and parent engagement in schools. Young people are influenced by their parents’ values, beliefs, and expectations of appropriate behavior. When parents know their child’s activities and whereabouts, clearly communicate their expectations, and create supportive family environments, teens are less likely to make poor decisions that impact their health.

Parents and schools have a powerful influence on young people, and it is important that they work together to prevent teens from engaging in risky behaviors. Promoting school connectedness, parent engagement in schools, and positive parenting practices is a vital way to keep our young people healthy and set them on the path towards academic achievement and well-being.

To learn more about what parents, schools, and communities can do, please go to CDC’s Healthy Youth Web site at:  www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/adolescenthealth/protective.htm

Study: Black Boys Hospitalized 10 Times More For Gun Injuries

A gun sitting on top of school notebooksAccording to a new study published in Pediatrics, 20 children a day are hospitalized for gunshot wounds in the United States. The study also found that 9 out of 10 cases involved male patients, with black boys being hospitalized 10 times as often as white boys.

READ: Is Gun Violence A Health Disparity?

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Out of the over 7,000 hospitalizations of children, 453 died while in the hospital, according to Dr. John Leventhal, the study’s lead study and a Yale professor of pediatrics.

“Three firearms-related patients each day are younger than 15 years of age,” Leventhal said. “This is a tragedy. There are substantial injuries to these children that may have lifelong consequences.”

The most common types of firearm injuries were open wounds (52 percent), fractures (50 percent), and internal injuries of the chest, abdomen or pelvis (34 percent), the report showed.

“Those don’t necessarily heal,” Leventhal said. “Those children will struggle with these injuries for the rest of their lives.”

READ: Lessons From Sandy Hook: Guns & Black Mental Health

More than half of the gun injuries involved an attack on the child, but nearly one-third were unintentional, the investigators found.

  •  Three of four hospitalizations of children younger than 10 resulted from accidental injuries.
  • About 84 percent of these shootings involved teens aged 15 to 19.
  • Two-thirds of reported injuries were related to assaults.

“Some of these are school shootings, some are gang-related, some are related to fights or disagreements,” Leventhal said. “They all relate to access to guns.”

The authors of the study say parents should follow the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendations regarding firearms.

READ: How To Talk To Children About Gun Violence

“The AAP recommends that the safest home for a family is a home without guns,” said study co-author Dr. Robert Sege, a pediatrician and director of the division of family and child advocacy at Boston Medical Center. “If there is a gun in the home, the gun should be stored unloaded and locked, and the ammunition should be stored separately.”

Benjamin said society as a whole should place renewed emphasis on making guns safer.

“We’ve made cars much, much safer without outlawing cars,” he said. “A comprehensive strategy which makes firearms safer and people safer with their firearms would dramatically reduce firearm deaths and injuries.”

The new study was published online Jan. 27 and in the February print issue of Pediatrics.