Dept. of Health and Human Services

Mentoring

Positive youth development research has long demonstrated that youth benefit from close, caring relationships with adults who serve as positive role models (Jekielek, Moore, & Hair, 2002). Today, 8.5 million youth continue to lack supportive, sustained relationships with caring adults (Cavell, DuBois, Karcher, Keller, & Rhodes, 2009). Mentoring—which matches youth or “mentees” with responsible, caring “mentors,” usually adults—has been growing in popularity as both a prevention and intervention strategy over the past decades. Mentoring provides youth with mentors who can develop an emotional bond with the mentee, have greater experience than the mentee, and can provide support, guidance, and opportunities to help youth succeed in life and meet their goals (DuBois and Karcher, 2005). Mentoring relationships can be formal or informal with substantial variation, but the essential components include creating caring, empathetic, consistent, and long-lasting relationships, often with some combination of role modeling, teaching, and advising.

Pregnancy Prevention

Teen pregnancy prevention is a national priority. Despite declines in teen pregnancy and birth rates in the U.S., the national teen pregnancy rate continues to be higher than the rates in other Western industrialized nations.1 Racial and ethnic disparities remain, with higher rates of teen pregnancy for Hispanic and non-Hispanic black adolescents than non-Hispanic white adolescents.2 Teen pregnancy prevention is a major public health issue because it directly affects the immediate and long-term well-being of mother, father, and child. Teen pregnancy and childbirth contribute significantly to dropout rates among high school females, increased health and foster care costs, and a wide range of developmental problems for children born to teen mothers. 3

Addressing teen pregnancy prevention requires broad efforts that involve families, service providers, schools, faith- and community-based organizations, recreation centers, policymakers, and youth. The development and implementation of evidence-based prevention efforts require an understanding of the problem including knowledge of target populations, trends in the rates of teen pregnancy and birth, and the risk and protective factors associated with teen pregnancy. This information can be used to inform decisions—such as choosing which risk and protective factors to focus on—in order to help better guide the effective implementation of evidence-based practices to prevent teen pregnancies. Currently there are a number of initiatives being implemented through the support of the federal government and other organizations to better address the issue of teen pregnancy.  

1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2011; Kost & Henshaw, 2012
2 Kost & Henshaw, 2012
3 CDC, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health, 2011

Driver Safety

Teen motor vehicle crashes can be prevented, and statistics indicate that the annual number of drivers aged 15 to 17 years involved in fatal crashes decreased 48 percent from 2005 to 2014 (Governors Highway Traffic Safety Association (GHSA), 2016). While this is promising, motor vehicle crashes continue to be the leading cause of death among teens; per mile driven, teen drivers ages 16 to 19 are nearly three times more likely than older drivers to be involved in a fatal crash (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), 2017).

Many factors influence teens' crash risk and likelihood for injury or death. These include driving ability, developmental factors, behavioral factors, personality factors, demographics, the perceived environment, and the driving environment (Shope & Bingham, 2008). For example, due to inexperience, teen drivers are more likely to take unnecessary risks including driving without a seatbelt, driving while distracted (e.g., texting, eating), and speeding. Situational factors such as driving at night, driving under the influence, and driving with other teenage passengers also place teens at higher risk (IIHS, 2017).2Prevention efforts to minimize the risk of deaths, injuries, and crashes related to teen driving need to be comprehensive and take into account the complex factors that influence driving. Research has indicated that strategies such as stronger seat belt laws and graduated driver licensing (GDL) have been successful in improving teen driver safety (Masten et. al., 2015).

View ReferencesReferences

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. (2009). Web-based injury statistics query and reporting system (WISQARS). Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/index.html

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. (2010). Drivers Aged 16 or 17 Years Involved in Fatal Crashes—United States, 2004–2008. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), 59(41), 1329-1334. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5941a2.htm?s_cid=mm5941a2_e

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. (2017). Fatality Facts: Teenagers (Rep.). Retrieved May 30, 2018 from http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/teenagers/fatalityfacts/teenager

Fischer, P. (2016). Mission Not Accomplished: Teen Driver Safety, the Next Chapter (Rep.). Washington, DC: Governors Highway Satey Association. Retrieved from https://www.ghsa.org/sites/default/files/2016-12/FINAL_TeenReport16.pdf

Masten, S. V., Thomas, F. D., Korbelak, K. T., Peck, R. C., & Blomberg, R. D. (2015, November). Meta-analysis of graduated driver licensing laws. (Report No. DOT HS 812 211). Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Retrieved from https://www.nhtsa.gov/sites/nhtsa.dot.gov/files/812211-metaanalysisgdlla...

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Office of Behavioral Safety Research. (2008). Teen driver crashes: A report to Congress. Washington, DC: Compton, R. P., & Ellison-Potter., P.

Shope, J. T., & Bingham, C. R. (2008).Teen driving: Motor-vehicle crashes and factors that contribute. American Journal of Prevention Medicine, 35(3S, S261-S271).

 

 

 

Employment

Nearly all young people—98.6 percent—hold at least one job between the ages of 18 and 25.1 The average young person holds 6.3 jobs between 18 and 25.2 Some work part-time or summers only, while others see full-time permanent employment as their path to economic independence. Employment can be beneficial for youth by teaching responsibility, organization, and time management and helping to establish good work habits, experience, and financial stability.3 There are many advantages to working during high school, especially for low-income youth, including higher employment rates and wages in later teen years and lower probabilities of dropping out of high school.4 Knowing how to find and keep a job is not only critical for admission to the adult world but also is an important survival skill for which there is little in the way of formal, structured preparation.

1 U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2013a
2 U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2013a
3 Child Trends, 2010
4 Tienda & Ahituv, 1996

Dating Violence Prevention

Healthy relationships consist of trust, honesty, respect, equality, and compromise.1 Unfortunately, teen dating violence—the type of intimate partner violence that occurs between two young people who are, or who were once in, an intimate relationship—is a serious problem in the United States. A national survey found that ten percent of teens, female and male, had been the victims of physical dating violence within the past year2 and approximately 29 percent of adolescents reported being verbally or psychologically abused within the previous year.3

Teen dating violence can be any one, or a combination, of the following:

  • Physical. This includes pinching, hitting, shoving, or kicking.
  • Emotional. This involves threatening a partner or harming his or her sense of self-worth. Examples include name calling, controlling/jealous behaviors, consistent monitoring, shaming, bullying (online, texting, and in person), intentionally embarrassing him/her, keeping him/her away from friends and family.
  • Sexual. This is defined as forcing a partner to engage in a sex act when he or she does not or cannot consent.

It can negatively influence the development of healthy sexuality, intimacy, and identity as youth grow into adulthood4 and can increase the risk of physical injury, poor academic performance, binge drinking, suicide attempts, unhealthy sexual behaviors, substance abuse, negative body image and self-esteem, and violence in future relationships.5

Teen dating violence can be prevented, especially when there is a focus on reducing risk factors as well as fostering protective factors, and when teens are empowered through family, friends, and others (including role models such as teachers, coaches, mentors, and youth group leaders) to lead healthy lives and establish healthy relationships. It is important to create spaces, such as school communities, where the behavioral norms are not tolerant of abuse in dating relationships. The message must be clear that treating people in abusive ways will not be accepted, and policies must enforce this message to keep students safe.

1 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2011
2 CDC, 2010
3 Halpern, Oslak, Young, Waller, Markin, & Kupper, 2001
4 Foshee & Reyes, 2009
5 CDC, 2012

Transition & Aging Out

The Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs supports a number of efforts to build the skills and resources of youth aged 16-24. Whether they are called "youth in transition," "transition age youth," "youth aging out" or other terms, youth in this age group experience a number of challenges on their path to a successful adulthood. A particular challenge for federal programs is support for youth transitioning out of foster care or juvenile detention facilities, youth who have run away from home or dropped out of school, and youth with disabilities.

Substance Use/Misuse

Substance abuse and problematic patterns of substance use among youth can lead to problems at school, cause or aggravate physical and mental health-related issues, promote poor peer relationships, cause motor-vehicle accidents, and place stress on the family. They can also develop into lifelong issues such as substance dependence, chronic health problems, and social and financial consequences.1

Substance abuse is the harmful pattern of using substances—such as tobacco, alcohol, illicit drugs, and prescription drugs—leading to impairment or distress with one or more of the following behaviors: 

  • Recurrent substance use resulting in failure to fulfill major responsibilities at work, school, or home such as repeated absences, suspension, and expulsion
  • Recurrent substance use in situations where it is physically dangerous, such as driving while impaired
  • Recurrent substance-related legal problems, such as arrests for disorderly conduct that are substance-related
  • Continued substance use despite having persistent or recurring social or personal problems caused or worsened by substance use2

One of the most highly abused substances among youth in the U.S. is alcohol.3 Youth engage in binge drinking, a pattern of drinking that elevates the blood alcohol concentration to 0.08 percent or above, more than adults do.4 This can lead to risky and potentially harmful behaviors, and many times substance abuse (60-75 percent of youth with substance abuse problems) co-occurs with mental health disorders.

Substance use, abuse, and dependence can negatively impact every aspect of an individual’s life. Child-serving systems need to intervene early in the lives of youth to prevent or treat abuse, support young people, and provide them with the tools to choose the right path.

1 Department of Justice, 1998
2 American Psychiatric Association, 2000
3 Johnston, O’Malley, Bachman, & Schulenberg, 2012
4 For the typical adult, this pattern corresponds to consuming five or more drinks [men], or four or more drinks [women], in about 2 hours.

Homelessness and Runaway

Homelessness is a major social concern in the United States, and youth may be the age group most at risk of becoming homeless.1 The number of youth who have experienced homelessness varies depending on the age range, timeframe, and definition used, but sources estimate that between 500,000 and 2.8 million youth are homeless within the United States each year.2

Youth run away or are homeless for a range of reasons, but involvement in the juvenile justice or child welfare systems, abuse, neglect, abandonment, and severe family conflict have all been found to be associated with youth becoming homeless. These youth are vulnerable to a range of negative experiences including exploitation and victimization. Runaway and homeless youth have high rates of involvement in the juvenile justice system, are more likely to engage in substance use and delinquent behavior, be teenage parents, drop out of school, suffer from sexually transmitted diseases, and meet the criteria for mental illness.3 Experiences of unaccompanied homeless youth are different from those who experience homelessness with their families. While negative experiences persist for youth who are homeless with their families, their experiences may not vary drastically from youth living in poverty.4 Studies have also found distinct variability in outcomes experienced by homeless youth, suggesting that youth experience homelessness differently.5

Providing timely and direct interventions to homeless and runaway youth is important to protect them from the risks of living on the streets and to support positive youth development6, yet despite the risks and needs of these youth, few appear to know of, and access, support services.7 Even more critical is addressing the family/parental needs to prevent youth and/or their families from becoming homeless and addressing their behavioral health needs through comprehensive methods that involve both youth and their families. 

1 Toro, Dworsky, & Fowler, 2007
2 Cooper, 2006
3 Walsh & Donaldson, 2010; Toro, Dworsky, & Fowler, 2007
4 Samuels, Shinn, & Buckner, 2010
5 Huntington, Buckner, & Bassuk, 2008
6 Walsh & Donaldson, 2010
7 Pergamit & Ernst, 2010

 

SBIRT/YouthBuild

The Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration (ETA) and the Department of Health and Human Services' Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) partnered in a pilot program.

National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention (NFYVP)

The Forum models a new kind of federal/local collaboration, encouraging its members to change the way they do business by sharing common challenges and promising strategies, and through coordinated action.