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Common Adolescent Health Issues and How Parents Can Intervene

Common Adolescent Health Issues and How Parents Can Intervene

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?

common adolescent health issues

Violence

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.
  • Monitor if your child is being cyberbullied as it can lead to violence.

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.

Why is There Low Contraception Use in the Philippines?

What Parents Can Do

  • Keep communication lines open. This allows you to monitor your child’s behavior and intervene when needed.
  • 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. Remember that their friends have a huge impact on their behavior and how they handle stress.
  • For both teenage girls and boys, emphasize the importance of education. Teach them about contraceptive use and help them weigh the risks of unwanted pregnancy.
  • 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
  • Injuries
  • Violence

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 drug use and be firm about it. Emphasize that setting these rules to protect them.
  • 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 activities and friendships as these will influence their behavior on alcohol and drug use.

common adolescent health issues

Tobacco Use

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
  • Cancer

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?

E-Cigarettes: Benefits and Risks

What Parents Can Do

  • 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.
  • Help them understand the disadvantages of smoking. For instance, remind them 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.

Key Takeaways

No matter what your adolescent is going through, remember to keep your communication lines open. Allow them to express themselves, but at the same time, empower them with correct information and the potential consequences of risky behaviors.

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.

Sources

Adolescents: health risks and solutions
https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/adolescents-health-risks-and-solutions
Accessed July 3, 2020

ADOLESCENT HEALTH AND DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM
https://www.doh.gov.ph/Adolescent-Health-and-Development-Program
Accessed July 3, 2020

National Baseline Study on Violence Against Children: Philippines
https://www.unicef.org/philippines/media/491/file#
Accessed July 3, 2020

How to Protect Children and Teens From Exposure to Violence
https://www.chop.edu/news/health-tip/how-protect-children-and-teens-exposure-violence
Accessed July 3, 2020

Teenage pregnancy worsening in PH
https://news.mb.com.ph/2019/10/29/teenage-pregnancy-worsening-in-ph/
Accessed July 3, 2020

Preventing Teen Pregnancy
https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/larc/index.html
Accessed July 3, 2020

10 TIPS FOR PARENTS TO HELP THEIR CHILDREN AVOID TEEN PREGNANCY
https://www.udel.edu/canr/cooperative-extension/fact-sheets/avoid-teen-pregnancy-parenting-tip/
Accessed July 3, 2020

Drug Abuse Prevention Starts with Parents
https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/teen/substance-abuse/Pages/Drug-Abuse-Prevention-Starts-with-Parents.aspx
Accessed July 3, 2020

Teens & Smoking
https://www.nationaljewish.org/conditions/health-information/smoking-and-tobacco-use/health/teens-and-smoking
Accessed July 3, 2020

Teen smoking: 10 ways to keep teens smoke-free
https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/tween-and-teen-health/in-depth/teen-smoking
Accessed July 3, 2020

Children and the benefits of friendship
https://www.lifeeducation.org.au/parents/children-and-the-benefits-of-friendship#
Accessed February 26, 2021

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Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. Updated Feb 26
Medically reviewed by Jessica Espanto, LPT, MA, RPsy
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