HEALTH FOR THE WORLD'S ADOLESCENTS

A second chance in the second decade

Adolescents’ health-related behaviours

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Violence and injuries

Injuries are among the leading causes of mortality and morbidity among adolescents. Therefore, it is important to monitor measures of violence and injury.

Physical fighting can lead to severe injuries, and it is associated with substance misuse and other problem behaviours.16 Fighting is common among younger adolescents, more so among boys than girls. The majority of boys report at least one fight in the preceding year in more than half the countries in both GSHS and HBSC.

Trends. In the 32 countries in Europe and North America where trends were available, they are mixed. In more than one-third of these countries rates of fighting among younger adolescents have declined, but two countries show increases in fighting among boys, and two among girls, and the remainder, no change.

Prevalence of fighting and bullying (HBSC)

Intimate partner violence. Violence in intimate relationships is common. Not only can physical injuries result, but also neurological and behavioural changes resulting from traumatic experiences can lead to both immediate and later health problems and repeated victimization throughout life.17

Prevalence of fighting and bullying (GSHS)

Prevalence. Nearly 30% of women ages 15–19 who are cohabiting have experienced violence by their partners, according to a WHO-supported review.18 Regional prevalence ranges from around 10% in some high income countries to 43% in South-East Asia.

Regional lifetime prevalence rates of intimate partner violence among ever-partnered girls age 15-19

School-based surveys in five high income countries (Canada, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States)19 20 21 document intimate partner violence for adolescents who are not cohabiting but are in romantic relationships. In these surveys the prevalence of intimate partner violence for both adolescent men and women is around 10%. Rates among students in schools in both North America and Europe are similar.

Bullying is another indicator of involvement in violence. Being bullied is linked to a wide range of mental, psychosocial, cognitive/educational and health problems including depression and suicide,22 as well as other poor coping responses such as problems with alcohol and other drug use.23

Prevalence. The percentage of younger adolescents who report being bullied recently (within the past one or two months) ranges from less than 10% in Italy and Armenia to 50% or higher in 17 of 106 countries. In about half of the countries, more boys than girls report being bullied recently. In only three countries do girls report significantly higher rates than boys.

Trends. Bullying is declining, especially among 13-year-old adolescents, in most high income countries in Europe and the Americas. This is good news, since the prevalence of recent bullying usually declines with age.24 However, 4 of the 32 countries with trend data report increased bullying among 15-year-old boys or girls.

Serious injury (HBSC)

Serious injuries, e.g. those requiring medical attention, also are common among younger adolescents in the GSHS and HBSC data. Typically, more boys than girls report injuries. Rates are highest in the Africa Region, but in over half of the countries in every region, at least 50% of young adolescent boys report serious injuries in the preceding year. Among girls ages 13–15, rates are 30–40% in most countries but reach 80% in Ghana.

Trends. Trends for injuries among adolescents in high income countries in Europe and North America are mixed, one-third show declines in injuries, one-fifth show increases among boys or girls or both, and the remainder are unchanged.

Serious injury (GSHS)
Violence-injuries

Give us real information about our rights and about sexual health. Also information about nutrition and healthy behaviours.

male, 15-17, Mexico

When I became sexually active I never wore a condom, and I didn’t know how to use one.

male, 18-19. Mexico

Adolescents on what should be done to improve their health: Raising awareness about sexual identities and orientation.

trans, 12-14, Argentina

I love drinking and partying, I do it quite often. I also smoke quite often.

male, 18-19, France

Adolescents on definition of health: To find myself comfortable with body, and to feel nothing that could make me feel bad about or within myself.

female, 18-19, Spain

I feel stress over sexual issues - no one wants to give me information, and I also get anxious because I feel that I am doing something wrong.

male, 15-17, Mexico

Adolescent on bad habits: To party and escape your daily troubles!

male, 15-17, France

I think I am physically and mentally healthy, but I feel emotional pain as a result of many different things that have happened over time.

female, 18-19, Mexico

I just wanted to test it out, then it became a habit.

female, 15-17, France

Adolescents on bad habits: it’s a quicker and easier way to satisfy my hunger. I like to eat.

female, 12-14, Peru

That cigarettes, alcohol and drugs not be in style anymore.

female, 15-17, France

Physically I am in good health, but mentally only partially because several obstacles find their way along my path, affecting my mental health, and I have to overcome them.

female, 15-17, Canada

I love sweets, and I haven’t found a balance between normal and excessive consumption.

female, 18-19. Venezuela

It’s basically a thing you do, in part because of the social aspect of these activities, in part, and this especially counts for the cigarettes, as a stress reliever.

male, 18-19, Denmark

Adolescents on definition of health: To have the ability to do things well, without any sort of discomfort or pain. To ensure a comfortable future, without any complications like diabetes or any sort of cardiac disease, etc., caused by what was done in the past.

female, 18-19, Mexico

To be in good health not only means taking care of your body (through participating in sports, eating well, etc.) or just the absence of illness; it also equally involves feeling good in your own skin, being happy with your choices in life and doing what you love.

female, 15-17 Canada

I haven’t learned about what I should and shouldn’t eat.

female, 18-19, Mexico

Sometimes it's just hard to pass up on something that tastes so good even if it is bad for your body. I have to remind myself that part of the reason it does taste so good is because of the added artificial flavouring or excess sugar content.

female, 18-19, United States of America

Each individual has his or her own life philosophy. I have my own life philosophy: Enjoy the present moment and take each day at a time. Enjoy the moments of youth that are supposed to be the greatest of our existence. It is the age of excess.

male, 18-19, France

Adolescents on bad habits: Sometimes laziness and inactivity, I'm not doing sports, and excessive eating of sweets and harmful foods and soft drinks and fruit after midnight.

female, 15-17, Saudi Arabia