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The health of adolescents: Beliefs and behaviour


  • Friedman, Herbert L.


Adolescence is a period of transition from childhood to adulthood in which interlocking changes in the body, mind and social relationship take place. Healthy development depends on both a propitious environment and the action of adolescents themselves. A stable family, peace, material conditions for physical health, and educational, social and vocational opportunities with a chance to make use of them before marriage, are necessary environment conditions. However, within this context the adolescent must experiment with new behaviours and relationships inevitably courting some risks. Adolescent health is especially linked to behaviour. If the environment is inadequate or dangerous and the adolescent lacks self-esteem, behaviours dangerous to health are more likely to occur. These include: precocious and unprotected sexual behaviour sometimes resulting in too early or unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases; the use of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs; injuries arising accidentally from risk taking behaviours especially when combined with alcohol or drugs; intentional injury whether self-inflicted or inflicted by others; and poor eating and habits of hygiene leading to obesity, or emaciation, acne and poor teeth and gums. Adolescent behaviour is often governed by their beliefs about what others think. Two way communication in a trusting atmosphere will reduce myths and misinformation and encourage healthy behaviour. The promotion of health, the prevention of problems, and their treatment and rehabilitation when they arise can best be accomplished with the active co-operation of young people.

Suggested Citation

  • Friedman, Herbert L., 1989. "The health of adolescents: Beliefs and behaviour," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 309-315, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:29:y:1989:i:3:p:309-315

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    Cited by:

    1. Favara, Marta, 2013. "Is Self-Esteem a "Double Edged Sword"? Self-Esteem and the Onset of Adolescent Sexual Activity," IZA Discussion Papers 7171, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).


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