University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Risky Behaviors in Teens
“Teens are at high behavioral risk for acquiring most STDs. Teenagers and young adults are more likely than other age groups to have multiple sex partners, to engage in unprotected sex, and, for young women, to choose sexual partners older than themselves. Moreover, young women are biologically more susceptible to chlamydia, gonorrhea and HIV. ” (http://www. cdc. gov/std/Trends2000/trends2000. pd). In the United States alone teen births are extremely high, they represent about 10 percent of 4 million births each year.
Not only does having a child during the teenage years causes social, emotional, and physical problems it also cost the United States 9 billion dollars a year. When having unprotected sex, not only pregnancy is a concern but receiving a sexually transmitted disease is a huge concern as well. In order to treat STDs in America it cost the government $17 million a year. The two most common STDs that teenagers catch are chlamydia, and gonorrhea. As a public health official it is important to know why do teenagers continually put themselves in situations that can alter their lives.
Another thing public officials need to look into is the adolescents psychosexual health. There have been so many studies looking at the vantage point on the amount STDs, abortions, and pregnancies teens have. Now that depression is a growing concern in adolescents today, looking into the correlation between sexual activity and depression will be of great help to the public health community (Kosunen,Heino, Rimpela, and Laippala). In order to find these answers we must first examine two human behavioral theories: 1) Bronfenbrenner’s ecological theory and 2) the attachment theory.
Once we have the answers to the question of why, then we can start the prevention of teen pregnancies and the spread of STDs amongst our youth. Bronfenbrenner is the leading contributor to the ecological systems theory. The ecological theory uses four types of roles and norms that shape children’s development. In order to make the theory is easy-to-understand Bronfenbrenner described it as the microsystem, mesosystem, exosystem, and macro system. It is stated that, “This theory looks at a child’s development within the context of the system of relationships that form his or her environment.
Bronfenbrenner’s theory defines complex “layers” of environment, each having an effect on a child’s development. This theory has recently been renamed “bio ecological systems theory” to emphasize that a child’s own biology is a primary environment fueling her development. The interaction between factors in the child’s maturing biology, his immediate family/community environment, and the societal landscape fuels and steers his development. Changes or conflict in any one layer will ripple throughout other layers.
To study a child’s development then, we must look not only at the child and her immediate environment, but also at the interaction of the larger environment as well” (http://pt3. nl. edu/paquetteryanwebquest. pdf). The microsystem is where the child has direct daily contact with certain structures. The microsystem includes the child’s family, school, daycare, and the child’s neighborhood. Since this is the most important part of the ecological system the relationships have an impact that can go into different directions(both away from the child and towards the child).
For example, a child’s parents may affect his beliefs and behavior; however, the child also affects the behavior and beliefs of the parent. Bronfenbrenner calls these bi-directional influences, and he shows how they occur among all levels of environment. The interaction of structures within a layer and interactions of structures between layers is key to this theory. At the microsystem level, bi-directional influences are strongest and have the greatest impact on the child. However, interactions at outer levels can still impact the inner structures. ” ((http://pt3. nl. edu/paquetteryanwebquest. pdf).
The mesosystem is the connection between the child’s microsystems. This can be the connection between the teacher and the child’s parents. The exosystem is the layer where the child does not function directly. This could be the parent’s work place or work schedule; even though the child does not function directly in this atmosphere the child can still feel the positive or negative consequences associated with the interaction. The macrosystem consists of the child’s culture, values, customs, and laws. For example if the child’s culture believes that it takes a village to raise a child, not only will mom and dad punish you but Ms. Susie the next door neighbor will too.
This gives the parent’s many more resources in order to raise their child in the appropriate way. “Attachment theory describes the dynamics of long-term relationships between humans especially as within families and between life-long friends. Its most important tenet is that an infant needs to develop a relationship with at least one primary caregiver for social and emotional development to occur normally, and that further relationships build on the patterns developed in the first relationships.
Attachment theory is an interdisciplinary study encompassing the fields of psychological, evolution , and ethological theory. ” (http://www. absoluteastronomy. com/topics/Attachment_theory). For a lot of adolescents, going into the teen years can be a very stressful transition. This met with a lot of intense challenges and changes. During this time the teen is moving away from his or her parents as their primary attachments figure and are looking towards their friends to be their primary attachment theory. If the teen’s friends are engaging in risky behaviors such as having more than one sexual partners, having unprotected sex, and etc. he teen is more likely to engage in the same type of behavior(Tracey and Shaver p. 2).
“Adolescents interact simultaneously in several social spheres–such as family, peer, and neighborhood systems–that can serve to either restrain or promote individual behaviors” (DiClemente, Salazar, Crosby, & Rosenthalp. 1). The roles of the parents are very important; studies have shown that if parents are more focused on their child’s wellbeing and know the whereabouts of their child, the adolescent is less likely to engage in risky behaviors (Voisin and DiClemente p. ). in understanding how the ecological theory works, if the child or adolescent is surrounded by teen pregnancy, risky behaviors, and the prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases this adolescent will believe that this behavior is okay. It is important for the adolescent to have support inside and outside of his or hers home. It is a belief that teen pregnancy and STDs can be prevented, but the question is how do public health officials began to combat these problems?
In January 2011 Frayser high school made national news because 90 girls were pregnant who currently attended the school. “In Memphis, the teen pregnancy rate is between 15 percent and 20 percent – and in Frayser, the rate is 26 percent, said Deborah Hester Harrison, executive director of Memphis’ Girls Inc. It’s no surprise that Harrison places at least part of the blame on the media, such as the popular MTV shows “16 and Pregnant” and “Teen Mom. ” (http://fieldnotes. msnbc. msn. com/_news/2011/01/14/5841767-90-pregnancies-at-o ne-high-school).
In order for Memphis to fight this epidemic, they have received funding from the Center of Disease Control (CDC) in order to conduct a youth risk behaviors survey and implement effective policies, programs, and practices to avoid, prevent, and reduce sexual risk behaviors among students that contribute to HIV infection, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and pregnancy. (http://www. cdc. gov/healthyyouth/states/locals/tn-memphis. htm). The youth risk behavior survey shows that 90% of teenagers in Memphis do not use protection when having intercourse. The survey also shows that over 60% of teens have had sex are sexually active.
Memphis City Schools are implementing a lot of different programs that will teach teens the importance of using protection during sex and the different effects that STDs and pregnancy can have on their lives (http://www. cdc. gov/healthyyouth/states/locals/tn-memphis. htm#1). It is a well-known fact that parents play an important part in their child’s development, there should be a free parenting class to parents that will teach them how to deal with their teens risky behaviors. Also teachers need to be better trained on how they deal with a student’s situation. Schools represent another socializing agent for adolescents and can be a significant source of support.
This may be particularly important for many high-risk teenagers, whose families may lack adequate resources and parental support. Adolescents who believe that they are receiving high levels of support in school and feel that they are connected to teachers are less likely to engage in risky sexual behaviors compared with peers reporting less school support or teacher connectedness” (DiClemente, Salazar, Crosby, & Rosenthal, p. 1). By involving the parents and teachers into the preventive process teen pregnancy and STDs will decline.