Culture is constantly changing and this is having a tremendous impact on our teenagers. The things many of us experienced later in our lives, they are experiencing at an earlier age. They are exposed to more information that is easily accessible but this ultimately exposes them to more dangers that children their age should not be faced with. Here are the top five health risks that teens face:
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Studies have shown that although teens represent only 25 percent of the sexually active population, they do in fact represent 50 per cent of all new sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). According to dosomething.org, “New estimates show that there are about 20 million new sexually transmitted infections in the United States each year,” this number being surprisingly high. In a report given by HealthDay News, they narrowed in on teenage girls, stating that one in four teenage girls in the US have had an STD, which was contracted soon after their first sexual encounter.
While we may not be able to stop our teens from being sexually active, it is important to be open with your teen. Talk to teens about the dangers of STDs and urge them to use protection.
The statistics are shedding light on how rapidly the incidence of teenage pregnancy is occurring right here in Trinidad and Tobago. In an article posted by CNC3 News, “Senator Paul Richards says that based on the statistics, for a five-year period, 570 girls, ages 13 to 16, became pregnant, while for the same period there were 2,907 cases of girls, ages 17 to 19, getting pregnant.” As a parent reading this, you may say to yourself, “How are these figures so high?” Well, our girls and boys both need to be properly educated on the risk of pregnancy if they are going to be sexually active - even if they are using protection.
Cigarettes, Alcohol and Drugs
The recreational use of cigarettes, drugs and alcohol among our teens remains an issue in Trinidad and Tobago. Many teens are starting to use these substances under the legal age, starting bad habits that only get worse as they grow older. Many incidences of addiction can start from early adolescence and change the path of the individual’s entire life.
Mental Health issues in today’s teenagers are growing in number every year. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “Mental health conditions account for 16 per cent of the global burden of disease and injury in people aged 10–19 years.” Teenage years are a very sensitive, crucial and informative time in a person’s lifetime.
Most teenagers do, in fact, have good mental health, but social, emotional and physical changes during this time can leave teenagers vulnerable to developing mental health issues. The WHO says that teens need to be “adopting healthy sleep patterns; taking regular exercise; developing coping, problem-solving, and interpersonal skills; and learning to manage emotions.”
With the rise in the incidence of suicides in recent years, media is turning to factors such as bullying, body image, media influences and stress as the main causes of teen suicide. Coming up to this year’s Secondary Entrance Assessment examination, the Ministry of Health Student Support Services Division, recorded a 20 per cent increase in the incidence of self-harm, self-mutilation and attempted suicides.