Parents and teens working together to protect teens health

January 15, 2014

The teenage years are a time for young people to learn and adopt healthy behaviors that will last a lifetime. Parents, schools, and communities tend to focus on preventing risky behaviors among youth, such as having sex at an early age, using tobacco, or drinking alcohol. However, a growing amount of research suggests that there is also value in promoting protective factors, which can help young people avoid risky behaviors, reduce the effects of stressful life events, and maintain or improve their health. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has identified three important areas—school connectedness, parent engagement, and positive parenting practices—that can help teens lead healthy, productive lives.
School connectedness© Copyright 2010 CorbisCorporation
School connectedness is the belief held by students that adults and peers care about them and their learning. Research shows that young people who feel connected to school are less likely to engage in risky behaviors and are more likely to have high grades and test scores, have better attendance, and stay in school. Schools can do many things to promote school connectedness including encouraging students to speak openly about their ideas, needs, and worries to parents and teachers; holding regular meetings between parents and teachers; and providing opportunities for students to work with adults, such as mentoring programs.
Parent engagement in schools
Parent engagement in schools involves parents and school staff working together to support and improve the learning, development, and health of teens. Much like school connectedness, parent engagement is closely linked to higher grades and fewer risky health behaviors. Parent engagement in schools is a shared responsibility in which schools reach out to parents in meaningful ways, and parents actively support their teen’s learning and development. To promote parent engagement, schools need to connect with parents, engage them in school-related activities, and sustain frequent communication with parents throughout the school year.
Positive parenting practices
Positive parenting practices complement school connectedness and parent engagement in schools. Young people are influenced by their parents’ values, beliefs, and expectations of appropriate behavior. When parents know their child’s activities and whereabouts, clearly communicate their expectations, and create supportive family environments, teens are less likely to make poor decisions that impact their health.
Parents and schools have a powerful influence on young people, and it is important that they work together to prevent teens from engaging in risky behaviors. Promoting school connectedness, parent engagement in schools, and positive parenting practices is a vital way to keep our young people healthy and set them on the path towards academic achievement and well-being.
To learn more about what parents, schools, and communities can do, please go to CDC’s Healthy Youth Web site at: