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Pediatricians are incredibly important to adolescents-they are the only professionals who see teenagers repeatedly, and in confidence, through the adolescent years.
Oct. 10-Atlanta-Pediatricians are incredibly important to adolescents-they are the only professionals who see teenagers repeatedly, and in confidence, through the adolescent years.
That’s the take-home message delivered yesterday by Kenneth R. Ginsburg, MD, MS Ed, a pediatrician at the Craig-Dalsimer Division of Adolescent Medicine at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia who spoke at a scientific session of AAP’s National Convention and Exhibition here. Dr. Ginsburg’s critical advice flows from the experiences of his work with a range of adolescents-from the children of his coworkers at CHOP to the disadvantaged youth of that city who have turned to drug-dealing, gang violence, and prostitution to cope with the dismal circumstances of their lives.
The importance of your intervention in the problems of adolescents cannot be overstated, Dr. Ginsburg emphasized: Consider that suicide is the second most common cause of death among adolescents in the United States today, and that one half of teenagers who commit suicide visited a physician within the month preceding their death.
“Kids will not, and should not, talk to you unless you create a zone of safety for them,” Dr. Ginsburg said. “And you can’t win kids over immediately. But you can gain their trust if you give them three or four minutes of your time during each office visit.”
Here is what Dr. Ginsburg says an adolescent needs to hear from you:
Parents of teenagers need to know that you are not under the impression that you can help their child more than they can, Dr. Ginsburg said. They also need to know that they will not be excluded if you find that their child is in trouble.
Importantly, said Dr. Ginsberg, find the teenager’s positive attributes and focus on those, not on behaviors that are inappropriate.
“There’s never been a human being that was inspired to rise above their circumstances by someone telling them what is wrong with them,” Dr. Ginsburg advised. “Inspire teens by telling them what is already good and right with them.”