An article was recently published in the journal Gender & Society that is enlightening, sad, and for me, brought back memories. The researchers interviewed a hundred adolescent girls referred for sexual abuse about their lives, and discussed themes regarding not only specific incidences of sexual abuse, but day-to-day life as a teen girl. The teen girls interviewed seemed to view sexual harassment, and even sexual violence, as part of everyday life. A common viewpoint was that boys have uncontrollable sexual urges, and it was the responsibility of girls- for better or for worse- to try and dodge them.
As I read the article, I began recalling my own life as an adolescent girl, and how normal a lot of sexual violence seemed. I’ve touched on this topic before, and yet it was startling how familiar some of these themes were to me. I wanted to discuss some of the ideas presented in the study, as well as the overwhelming questions that emerge: Why aren’t teens experiencing sexual harassment or violence seeking help from adults? Why do the teens perpetrating sexual harassment and violence think that their actions are okay?
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The Center for Strategic and International Studies, along with the International Youth Foundation, recently came out with a report where countries were ranked according to the “Global Youth Well-being Index“. Out of 30 countries, the United States came in sixth, topped by Australia, Sweden, South Korea, the U.K., and Germany.
What does this mean? As usual, it depends on how you look at the data. There are certainly more than 30 countries in the world; our neighbor Canada is missing, and only five European countries are considered. Some nations listed in the survey- like Tanzania, Uganda, and Kenya- are developing nations where parts of the population struggle for things we take for granted (usually), like clean water.
The rankings are based on six areas of youth health, and I wanted to comment on the U.S. and how we scored on specific measures. Read full post »
Recently, a report by the Brookings Institute came out about the dismal labor market for teens (and, for that matter, young adults). Particularly for high-school age teens, job opportunities are few and far between. In fact, employment rates dropped almost 50% for 16-19 years olds between 2000 and 2011.
Of course, we know the job market itself was shaken up by the recent recession. Also, the report points out that a small portion of the drop in employment is due to a rise in school enrollment, which is good news!
The worst-affected teens are those who have dropped out of high school and need to work full-time. Because higher levels of education increase employment opportunities, they are the least likely to find a job. However, many teens who are in school also desire or need to work part-time, for reasons ranging from contributing to family finances to paying for a trip to Europe over the summer.
Here are some ideas for helping a teen who can’t find a job: Read full post »
Vaccines have been a topic of much debate lately: Do they help? Are they safe? Should I vaccinate my child?
I can recall a recent visit with a 16 year old girl. She had a question about the HPV vaccine. She’d seen a commercial and was interested in learning more. We discussed the risks and benefits as well as the purpose of the vaccine. After she’d asked a series of very insightful and thought out questions, she decided she wanted to proceed with starting the vaccination series (the Gardasil vaccine is a series of 3 shots over 6 months). We brought her mother in to talk about starting the series and her mother hesitated. Like any caring parent, she wanted to be certain her daughter was safe. Their pediatrician hadn’t discussed the vaccine and she’d read on social media that it had potential side effects. At the end of our visit, my patient still wanted the vaccine, but her mother wanted to think about it. Read full post »
Most parents are expecting it: that day when your health care provider politely asks you to leave the room so they can speak to your tween or teen alone. It’s a rite of passage, an acknowledgment that teens might have events or concerns that they don’t feel comfortable talking over with family members present.
I’ve gotten a few amused comments, such as, “It’s time for the sex talk!” as well as some dissent. I wanted to write a bit about what we talk about while you’re gone, and why it’s important. Read full post »
We expect a lot from teens. We expect them to reach their full academic potential, to succeed in athletic, artistic, or charitable endeavors, and often hold down a job. They take on roles of responsibility in clubs, teams, families, and their communities. They care for younger siblings, pass standardized tests, plan for their young adulthood, and attempt to keep up strong peer and romantic connections. No wonder they’re exhausted!
I believe that teens can succeed in all these tasks, but I also believe that teens can get stressed and overscheduled trying to live up to all their obligations. I wanted to offer a few tips for you to help your teen keep life in balance. Read full post »
It’s very simple: that their well-being is priceless.
I was recently privileged to attend a discussion in which teen gave their thoughts on various health care issues. It was engaging, enlightening, and eye-opening. One unexpected thing I heard- from multiple teens- about getting health care was that they wished it didn’t cost their parents so much money, and that they felt bad being a burden.
I and other health care providers present were taken aback. Our society tends to paint teens as self-centered and even selfish. Listening to a teen talk about how they might not tell their parents if they were ill, hoping to save them money on an expensive medication, was heartbreaking. Read full post »
A new study in JAMA Dermatology will come out this week that shows an association between tanning and teens being engaged in other risky behaviors. We have long known that tanning but this study provides us with more evidence that they may be risky for other aspects of our lives as well. Read full post »
This week a friend emailed an article about a toolkit for male health. It got me thinking: why don’t boys go to the doctor? It seems that for teen girls, there are numerous reasons that lead them in for medical evaluations (menstrual cramps, acne, concerns about weight, reproductive health). There are screening guidelines that encourage women under age 25 to seek medical care routinely, but our teen boys are often left out. It’s not that teen boys are more or less healthy, it just seems that we’ve been less likely to consider that boys need medical visits too! Read full post »
Horror film aficionados know that there are many classes of horror movies. There is supernatural horror, psychological horror, sci-fi horror, religious horror, horror-comedy, etc. Some of the most disturbing horror films for many (including me) are body horror. Body horror is basically a subgenre in which terrifying things happen to bodies. They grow, change, mutate, and/or self-destruct in particularly terrifying ways.
Obviously, going through puberty is different from having an alien burst out of your chest. However, at Dr. Kastner’s lecture last week, she reminded us that puberty is not only a time of emotional upheaval, but of physical upheaval as well. The further we get from puberty, the more it simply seems like a normal time of life that was rather difficult. We know that it happens to everyone and is pleasant for few. Yet while many of us looked forward to puberty and becoming more grown up, the changes our bodies presented us with were often confusing, unpredictable, unwanted, and more trouble than we’d expected. Read full post »