OR WAIT 15 SECS
Comments on specific factors that protect children from risky adolescent behavior.
Public concern about adolescent violence and other risky behaviors of young people has led to attempts to correlate such behaviors with how children and the people around them lead their lives. One of the most recent and comprehensive efforts was the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, funded by Congress.* Not surprisingly, this extensive nationwide study found that there appear to be personal and family correlates with violent behavior, suicide, early sexual experiences, and poor communication between adolescents and their parents. Factors that protect children from risky adolescent behavior also are identifiable. Some of these factors include the following:
These findings raise as many questions as they answer. What is it about connection to religion that protects adolescents? Is it the admonition to do good, the spirituality, or the feeling of being part of a concerned community? Is it necessary that the shared family activity be the evening meal, or are other regular family activities just as likely to protect from risky behavior? Probably most important for pediatricians, these findings support the advice we give to parents. Families are important, and so are the traditions, consistency, and standards that they provide under the best of circumstances. Rules are important, too, and a child whose family's rules are well articulated, consistent, and accepted by all is less likely to get into trouble.
*Institute for Youth Development: Protecting adolescents from risk: Transcript of a Capitol Hill briefing on new findings from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), June 3, 1999
Julia McMillan, ed. Julia McMillan. Editorial: Minimizing risk. Contemporary Pediatrics 2000;8:9.