Adolescence is a phase of growth and discovery. It’s when children transition to adulthood. Because this stage calls for a lot of adjustments, it’s not surprising to encounter problems along the way. What are the common adolescent health issues in our country? What can we do to help adolescents cope with these issues?
According to the WHO, interpersonal violence is the 3rd leading cause of death among adolescents. However, they specified that the prominence varies depending on the world regions.
Violence or the physical act of intending to hurt someone is one of the most common adolescent health issues in the Philippines.
In fact, among the participants of the 2013 Young Adult Fertility Sex Survey (YAFSS), 17% have experienced violence in the past year. And 23% of the participants, aged 15 to 24 years old, have been “aggressors of violence”.
Additionally, in an Epidemiological Survey by UNICEF in 2016, 80% of the Filipino participants aged 13 to 24 had experienced some form of violence. Although youths belonging in the 20-24 years old bracket were included in the statistics, there’s no doubt that the figures are still worrying.
What Parents Can Do
- Nurture your relationship with your adolescents. Kids naturally need adults who they can look up to for protection and guidance.
- Take actions to reduce their access to alcohol and weapons.
- Be on the lookout for signs that may indicate that your child has experienced violence or trauma. These include trouble in controlling their behavior, sleep problems, changes in appetite, and being jumpy or easily distracted by some noises.
- Participate in school programs that aim to reduce day-to-day acts of aggression.
Early Pregnancy and Childbirth
Another one of the most common adolescent health issues in our country is early pregnancy and childbirth.
In the Philippines, approximately 576 babies are delivered daily by teenage girls.
Early pregnancy and childbirth among adolescent girls puts their health at risk. As per WHO’s data, pregnancy and childbirth is the leading cause of death for girls aged 15 to 19 years old.
What Parents Can Do
- Strive for a warm and affectionate relationship that encourages communication.
- Talk to your kids about sex and your values and attitudes about it. In this sense, you can encourage them to not have sex until they are ready or give them pointers on the use of contraceptives.
- Be proactive in knowing about their activities and the people they associate with.
- Emphasize the importance of education and their options other than early motherhood.
- Should your teenager become pregnant, ensure that she has access to a good healthcare facility and antenatal care.
Alcohol and Drugs
The irresponsible use of alcohol and drugs is also among the common adolescent health issues that lead to increased risky behavior and reduced self-control.
Due to this, the WHO said that alcohol and drugs may lead to:
- Unsafe sex
- Dangerous driving
Drugs and alcohol may affect an adolescent’s overall health and lifespan. But what can parents do to steer their children away from these vices?
What Parents Can Do
- Lead by example. If you’ll drink, do so in moderation. Show them how to be responsible drinkers. For instance, never drink and drive, rather, assign a designated driver.
- Set some family rules about alcohol and be firm about drug use.
- Talk about the negative effects of illegal drugs and how it can affect their future and health.
- Correct their views about alcohol and drug use. Some adolescents drink and use drugs because they think along the lines of “Everybody drinks, so why shouldn’t I?” and “Drugs won’t hurt you anyway!”
- Teach them different ways to say NO, like “No, I’m not into that,” or “I’m sorry, I can’t – my parents would be really mad.”
- Encourage positive activities and friendships.
Since it’s highly related to drug and alcohol use, tobacco use is also one of the most common adolescent health issues in our country.
According to WHO, majority of the adult smokers now started their habit when they were just adolescents. Teens start smoking for various reasons, but one thing is for certain – it brings a lot of negative effects on their overall health.
The long-term effects of smoking include:
- Nicotine addiction
- Higher risk of developing heart diseases
- Increased risk of lung diseases
Additionally, if we’re going to include the list of short-term negative effects, you’ll see things like chronic coughing, shortness of breath, stained teeth, and bad breath.
Since adolescents, especially those who are of legal age, can easily access cigarettes, what strategies can ease them away from smoking?
What Parents Can Do
- If you are smoking, show them that you are serious about quitting.
- Try to understand why your kids are smoking. Some of them smoke to rebel against parents while others smoke just to “look cool” among their friends.
- Remind your children that smoking makes them look and feel bad. On top of the negative health effects, remember that it also causes stained teeth, bad breath, and body odor.
- Let them understand that cigarettes are expensive.
- If your kids insist that they can “stop smoking anytime they want,” remind them that nicotine addiction is real and that it is serious.
No matter what your adolescent is going through, remember to keep your communication lines open. Allow them to express without the fear of judgment and correct their beliefs if they will not lead them to anything good.
Violence, early pregnancy, and childbirth, as well as alcohol, drug, and tobacco use, are some of the most common adolescent health issues in the country. In trying to address them, don’t forget that parents have the power to greatly affect their teen’s future health.
Learn more about parenting adolescents, here.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.