Adolescence is for Adventure – Many Miss Out

Current Research Concludes that:

  • Most adolescents do not feel that they are valued by people in their community or that they have caring adults and role models around them.
  • Close to a third of high-school seniors are binge drinking
  • The percentage of babies born out-of-wedlock has increased more than sixfold since 1960.  More than a third of all births, and more than 2/3 of all births to African American parents in 2004 were out-of-wedlock.
  • In 2000, there were an estimated 19 million new cases of (sexually transmitted diseases (STD) among Americans.  Approximately half of all new STD infections occur in teens and young adults (ages 15-24) each year.
  • Since 1996 the American government has poured more than $1 billion into abstinence-only education programs. Studies by the University of Oxford, Columbia and  the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy are showing that they are not successful at decreasing rates of HIV infection, at lowering the incidence of unprotected sex, the frequency of STDs and pregnancy, or the number of partners the students had; nor did it get them to use condoms more often or pursue abstinence.
  • The suicide rate for youths 15 to 19 doubled between 1970 and 1990
  • The Carnegie Council on Adolescent Development concluded in 1995 that fully half of American adolescents were at moderate or high risk of damaging their life chances by multiple high-risk behaviors and school failure.
  • The percentage of children who grow up in single-parent homes has increased dramatically over the past four decades.  In 1960, only 9% of children lived in single-parent families; by 2005, that number had increased to 28%.

“One of the most effective ways to turn the tide is to support the adults playing significant roles in the lives of adolescents, including, notably, their parents. Although it is true that peers, schools, communities, and other factors take on added significance as children become teenagers, research consistently shows that parents remain a powerful influence in fostering healthy teen development and preventing negative outcomes.

  • Teens themselves acknowledge the influence of parents, reporting in studies that their parents remain critically important as guides, mentors, sounding boards, and advocates.
  • Curiously, however, relatively little attention has been given to supporting the critical role that parents play in the lives of adolescents.
  • Frustrated by appalling reports of teen violence and self-destruction, the media and the public sometimes gravitate to simplistic explanations that blame parents and look to them to remedy teen problems singlehandedly.
  • However, more realistic assessments of what parents can do—and allocation of the resources they need to do so—are few and far between.  Social services, media information, and policy initiatives for parents of teenagers are all in short supply.
  • Anecdotally, parents of adolescents frequently express the need for more and better information and support, as well as frustration that it is not more readily available or accessible.”*

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