School involvement and kids' health risks

Filed under: Teens, Health & Safety: Babies, Development/Milestones: Babies, Day Care & Education

Getting teenagers more active in school life may lower the odds that they will smoke, drink, use drugs or have sex. This was suggested by a study, summarized on MedlinePlus and presented in the September issue of American Journal of Public Health. In the investigation from Australia, researchers found that students at schools that started programs of "social inclusion" were 25%less likely than their peers at other schools to report that they got into fights, abused drugs or alcohol, or were sexually active. The programs were designed to help teenagers feel more connected to their schools by encouraging them to get involved in and out of the classroom. Students also received lessons on managing their emotions and communicating with other people. The researchers followed 13- and 14-year-old students at 25 schools over 4 years. About half of the schools received help in implementing a social inclusion program for 8th grade students, while the rest served as a comparison group. After 4 years, the researchers found that 20%of 8th-graders at the comparison schools reported taking "marked" health risks, such as heavy substance abuse, fighting and having sex, compared with 15% of students at the schools that started a social program.

The approach looks like one that should be adopted in the United States. What do you think?

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.