Thursday, February 28, 2013

Community Involvement Reduces Youth Risk Behaviors

Today’s teens are faced with difficult decisions about drug and alcohol use, sexual activity and rebellious, anti-social behavior. As our adolescent population increases, more youth become vulnerable to these health risk behaviors.

A recent study supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published in the Journal of Youth Development took an in-depth look at the relationship between community involvement and adolescent risk behavior. Collecting information from both parents and teens, the behaviors that researchers specifically look at are sexual activity, smoking, alcohol use, drug use, skipping school, fighting, weapon-carrying, and being arrested.

Results of the study show that community involvement can reduce several adolescent risk-taking behaviors. Community involvement was defined as volunteering in service to others and promoting one’s community. Youth involved in helping activities were less likely to be involved in anti-social behaviors, teen pregnancy, school suspension s or school drop-out. Other studies have found that youth who are occupied in civic activities tend to do better in school, have better psychological  health, and take part in fewer risk-taking behaviors.

When programs build specific competencies, skills and positive qualities into health education and prevention, youth make better decision regarding risky behavior. Today’s teens are tomorrow’s leaders and decision-makers. Investing in youth through community involvement has the potential to make a huge return for everyone’s future.

Sources: Family Album Radio. Potential Protective Effect of the Community Involvement Asset on Adolescent Risk Behaviors. Journal of Youth Development. Vol. 1, number 1, May 2006.

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