Encourage Healthy Behavior by Adolescents

  • Date: Jan 01 2000
  • Policy Number: 200027

Key Words: Adolescent Health, Legislation, School Health, School Health Education and Services, Jails Prisons Prisoners

THE AMERICAN PUBLIC HEALTH ASSOCIATION,

Recognizing the importance of reducing alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use among youth1 and seeking to update that focus on prevention of initial risky behavior and the high incidence of injuries resulting from risky behaviors by adolescents and evidence-based interventions that prevent and ameliorate further problems; and

Noting that comprehensive approaches are more effective than programs that focus on a single behavior;2-4 and

Noting that tobacco use,5 alcohol and drug abuse,6 unsafe driving practices, violent behavior7 including attempting suicide,8 unprotected sex,9 poor nutrition,10,11 and lack of exercise10-12 threaten the healthy development of youth into productive adults; and

Observing that previous resolutions have considered specific unhealthy behaviors, their results, and methods of intervention;13-26 and

Recognizing that risky behavior is affected by core social institutions such as education, administration of justice, and economic opportunities;27 and

Observing that publicizing adolescent violent behavior in newspapers,28-29 television,30-32 and other media can lead to “copy-cat” behavior by adolescents and enactment of tougher penalties by voters; and

Noting that the majority of adolescents may engage in one or more of these behaviors at some time,27,33-35 but these behaviors are not normative; and Recognizing that youth at high risk for life-threatening activities tend to engage in multiple risky behaviors;36-41 and

Noting that adolescents at high risk for health and criminal problems also tend to have multiple predisposing factors,28,33,36,42,43 including poor academic achievement, lack a caring adult, and have access to illegal substances or guns;37,44 and

Recognizing that these predisposing and enabling factors tend to e complex, a more comprehensive approach to prevention and intervention is required; and

Observing that programs that focus on promoting academic success for all students, developing positive relationships with peers and adults, providing family support, and increasing family and community engagement have been effective in reducing risky behavior28,33,36,45-47 and that many of these programs include school-based health centers and family resource centers where multi-agency services can be coordinated; and

Finding that these elements are often present in programs known as community schools48,49 that provide activities outside of school hours for students, their families, and community members; and

Noting that intervention policies requiring expulsion and suspension drive students from school and inhibit their development;41,45,50 and

Recognizing that interventions involving mandatory minimum sentences and incarceration of youth with adult criminals encourages development of deviant behaviors and inhibits positive learning, forcing increasing dependence on society;28,51,52 therefore

  1. Urges Congress and the states to enact legislation and provide appropriations that promote collaboration among government agencies to develop comprehensive and integrated programs and services for prevention of high-risk adolescent behavior, such as the Safe Schools/Healthy Students Initiative;53
  2. Urges Congress, the states, and local communities to provide adequate funding for community schools that include after-school programs, preferably with community service opportunities, health education programs, family resource centers, and school-based health centers;
  3. Urges Congress to fund collaborative research about the impact of community schools on prevention of risky behavior by adolescents, and disseminate the results to policy makers and professional and lay audiences;
  4. Urges wire services and other media to publicize positive activity of adolescents;
  5. Urges all states to enact legislation prohibiting media from publicizing names of those under the age of 18 who commit violent crimes, or their families;
  6. Recommends that school districts implement alternative educational experiences in lieu of suspension and expulsion; and
  7. Urges Congress and the states to repeal mandatory minimum sentences for juveniles; and 
  8. Urges Congress, the states, and local governments to house incarcerated youth under the age of 18 with others of similar age, and not to house them with incarcerated adults. 

References

  1. Policy Statement 8817(PP): A Public Health Response to the War on Drugs: Reducing Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Problems among the Nation’s Youth. APHA Policy Statements; 1948-present, cumulative, APHA: Washington DC.
  2. National Institute for Drug Abuse. Preventing drug abuse among children and adolescents: A research-based guide. National Institute for Drug Abuse, 1997.
  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Drug abuse prevention: What works. Washington, DC: National Institute on Drug Abuse, 1997, pp. 47-50.
  4. Satcher D, et al., Violence prevention is as American as apple pie. Am J Preventive Medicine, 1996; 12(5):v-vi.
  5. US Department of Health and Human Services; Preventing tobacco use among young people: A report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, Georgia: US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, 1994.
  6. Centers for Disease Control; Youth risk behavior surveillance survey. Morb Mortal Wkly Rep, 1996; 45(SS-4):1-85.
  7. US Department of Justice, Uniform Crime Reports 1997, preliminary annual release. Washington, DC: Federal Bureau of Investigation; 1998.
  8. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Youth risk behavior surveillance—United States, 1997. Morb Mortal Wkly Rep, 1998; 47(SS-3).
  9. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Trends in sexual risk behaviors among high school students——United States, 1991-97. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 1998; 47(36):749-751.
  10. Healthy People 2010. National Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Objectives, conference edition, in two volumes. Washington DC: US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Services, 2000.
  11. West P and Farrior E. School Food Service Research Review. 1991.
  12. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Guidelines for school and community programs to promote lifelong physical activity among young people. Morb Mortal Wkly Rep, 1997; 46(RR-6).
  13. Policy Statement 9808: National Tobacco Control Legislation. APHA Policy Statements, 1948–present, cumulative, APHA: Washington DC.
  14. Policy Statement 7513: Alcoholism. APHA Policy Statements, 1948–present, cumulative, APHA: Washington DC.
  15. Policy Statement 7121: Substance Abuse as a Public Health Problem. 1 APHA Policy Statements, 1948–present, cumulative, APHA: Washington DC.
  16. Policy Statement 9213(PP): Advertising and Promotion of Alcohol and Tobacco Products to Youth. APHA Policy Statements, 1948-present, cumulative, APHA: Washington DC.
  17. Policy Statement 9610: Elimination of Outdoor Tobacco Advertising. APHA Policy Statements, 1948–present, cumulative, APHA: Washington DC.
  18. Policy Statement 9611: Linkage of Medical Services for Low-Income Populations with Mental Health, Substance Abuse, and Other Supportive Services. APHA Policy Statements, 1948–present, cumulative, APHA: Washington DC.
  19. Policy Statement 9210: Homelessness as a Public Health Problem. APHA Policy Statements, 1948–present, cumulative, APHA: Washington DC.
  20. Policy Statement 9818: Handgun Injury Reduction. APHA Policy Statements, 1948–present, cumulative, APHA: Washington DC.
  21. Policy Statement 9123: Social Practice of Mass Imprisonment. APHA Policy Statements, 1948–present, cumulative, APHA: Washington DC.
  22. Policy Statement 7837: Prevention of Unwanted Teenage Pregnancy. APHA Policy Statements, 1948–present, cumulative, APHA: Washington DC.
  23. Policy Statement 6701: Helping Youth Achieve Healthy Sexual Adjustment. APHA Policy Statements, 1948–present, cumulative, APHA: Washington DC.
  24. Policy Statement 9309: Sexuality Education. APHA Policy Statements, 1948–present, cumulative, APHA: Washington DC.
  25. Policy Statement 6917: Sex Education in School Systems. APHA Policy Statements, 1948–present, cumulative, APHA: Washington DC.
  26. Policy Statement 8205: Endorsement of the National Nutrition Consortium’s Nutrition Education Policy Guidelines. APHA Policy Statements, 1948–present, cumulative, APHA: Washington DC.
  27. Elliott D. Youth violence: An overview. Boulder, CO: Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence, 1994.
  28. Tolan P and Guerra N. What works in reducing adolescent violence: An empirical review of the field. Boulder, CO: Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence, 1994.
  29. Klein J, et al. Adolescents’ risky behavior and mass media use, Comment. Pediatrics, July 1993; (1):146-148.
  30. Centerwall B. Television and violence the scale of the problem and where to go from here. JAMA, 1992; 26(22):3059-3063.
  31. Dorfman L, et al. Youth and violence on local television news in California. Am J Public Health, 1997; 87(8):1311-1316.
  32. Policy Statement 7622: Television and Health. APHA Policy Statements, 1948–present, cumulative, APHA: Washington DC.
  33. Earls F. Violence and today’s youth. The Future of Children; Critical health Issues for Children and Youth. 1994; 4(3): 4-23.
  34. Moffitt T. Adolescence-limited and life-course-persistent antisocial behavior: A developmental taxonomy. Psychological Review. 1993; 100(4):674-701.
  35. Elliott D, et al. National Youth Survey—General Delinquency Scale. Cumulative risk across family stressors: Short- and long-term effects for adolescents. 1998; 26:119-128.
  36. Lerner R and Galambos N. Adolescent development: Challenges and opportunities for research, programs and policies. Annual Review of Psychology. 1998; 49:413-446.
  37. Williams K., Guerra N, and Elliott D. Human Development and Violence Prevention. Boulder CO: Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence; 1997.
  38. Ellickson P, Saner H, and McGuigan K. Profiles of violent youth: Substance use and other concurrent problems. Am J Public Health. 1997; 87(6):985-991.
  39. Cocozza J and Skowyra K. Youth with Mental Health Disorders: Issues and Emerging Responses. Washington, DC: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency; 2000; p. 3-13.
  40. Hawkins J et al. Predictors of youth violence. Washington, DC: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. 2000;. 1-11.
  41. Dryfoos J. Adolescents at Risk: Prevalence and Prevention. New York, NY: Oxford Press; 1990.
  42. Jessor R. Successful adolescent development among youth in high-risk settings. American Psychologist. 1993; 48(2):117-126.
  43. Hawkins J, Catalano R and Miller J. Risk and protective factors for alcohol and other drug problems in adolescence and early adulthood: Implications for substance abuse prevention. Psychological Bulletin. 1992; 112:64-105.
  44. American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Adolescence, Firearms and adolescents. Pediatrics. 1992; 89(4):784-787.
  45. Carnegie Council on Adolescent Development, Great Transitions: Preparing Adolescents for a New Century. New York, NY: Carnegie Corporation of New York; 1995.
  46. Decker L and Decker V. Engaging Families and Communities: Pathways to Educational Success. Fairfax, VA: National Community Education Association; 2000.
  47. Dryfoos J. Full-Service Schools. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass; 1994.
  48. Canada G. Fist, Stick, Knife, Gun. Boston, MA: Beacon Press; 1996.
  49. Melaville A. Learning Together: The Developing Field of School——Community Initiatives. Flint, MI: Charles Stewart Mott Foundation; 1998.
  50. US Department of Education and US Justice Department. Safe and smart——making after-school hours work for kids. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office; 1998.
  51. Gottfredson D. Choosing punishments: Crime control effects of sentences, Research Review. 2000; p. 2.
  52. Singer S and McDowall D. Criminalizing delinquency: The deterrent effects of the New York juvenile offender law. Law & Society Review. 1988; 22(3):521-535.
  53. US Department of Justice, President Clinton announces more than $200 million in community grants to prevent violence among youth. Washington, DC: US Department of Justice; 2000.

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