Parent Alert August 2022

Parent Alert | August 2022

Youth Connectedness Is an Important Protective Factor for Health and Well-being

Connectedness is an important protective factor for youth that can reduce the likelihood of a variety of health risk behaviors. Connectedness refers to a sense of being cared for, supported, and belonging, and can be centered on feeling connected to school, family (i.e. parents and caregivers), or other important people and organizations in their lives. Youth who feel connected at school and home are less likely to experience negative health outcomes related to sexual risksubstance use, violence, and mental health.

In addition, school connectedness (i.e. the belief by students that adults and peers in the school care about them as individuals) has been shown to have positive effects on academic achievement, including having higher grades and test scores, having better school attendance, and staying in school longer.

Adolescent Connectedness has Lasting Effects

Recent CDC findings published in Pediatrics suggest that youth connectedness also has lasting effects. Youth who feel connected at school and at home were found to be as much as 66% less likely to experience health risk behaviors related to sexual health, substance use, violence, and mental health in adulthood.

CDC findings published in Pediatrics suggest that youth who feel connected at home and at school were less likely to experience health risk behaviors related to mental health, violence, sexual health, and substance use in adulthood.

Youth Experience Health Risks

Among U.S. high school students who participated in the 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey:

  • 37% persistently felt sad or hopeless
  • 19% have seriously considered attempting suicide
  • 16% made a suicide plan
  • 9% have attempted suicide
  • 46% did not use a condom during last sex
  • 7% were forced to have sex
  • 8% have had four or more lifetime sex partners
  • 19% have been bullied at school

Recommendations for Schools, Families, and Healthcare Providers

There are concrete steps schools, families, and healthcare providers can take to promote connectedness among youth.

Schools Can:
  • Provide professional development on classroom management. Reinforcing positive behavior through praise and establishing rules, routines, and expectations are classroom management techniques that promote higher levels of school connectedness.
  • Support student led-clubs at school. These clubs create a safe space for students to socialize, support each other, and connect with supportive school staff.
  • Facilitate positive youth development activities. Implementing mentoring programs, providing opportunities to volunteer in the community; or connecting students to community-based programs can provide youth with a network of supportive adults.
  • Provide parents and families with resources that support positive parenting practices such as open, honest communication and parental supervision.
Families and Caregivers Can:
  • Communicate openly and honestly, including about their values.
  • Supervise their adolescent to facilitate healthy decision-making.
  • Spend time with their adolescent enjoying shared activities.
  • Become engaged in school and help with homework.
  • Volunteer at their adolescent’s school.
  • Communicate regularly with teachers and administrators.
Healthcare Providers Can:
  • Ask adolescents about family relationships and school experiences as a part of routine health screenings.
  • Encourage positive parenting practices.
  • Engage parents in discussions about how to connect with their adolescents, communicate effectively, and monitor activities and health behaviors.
  • Educate parents and youth about adolescent development and health risks.
Youth experience multiple health risks and those health risks can contribute to poor health outcomes in adulthood. Therefore, it’s important that we also promote protective factors that can reduce health risks, both during the adolescent years and long term.
Information courtesy of CDC - Adolescent Connnectedness

How to Help Your Kids Prepare for Going Back to School

Summer break is an intrinsic part of everyone's childhood experience.  Family vacations, summer camp, reading programs, and going to the park are just a few of the many activities children can do to stay busy as they enjoy a well-deserved break from the classroom.  One of the challenges many children face is getting back into the classroom mindset when school starts back up in August.  There are many things that parents can do to help their children get ready to go back to school, and here are a few of those things.
  • Set a schedule.  Adjust bedtimes to what they will be during the school year, and set a daily routine.  You can set a routine by making a list of daily activities for your child to do which will not only give them something to do at home, but will also help them mentally prepare for what to expect when they go back to school.  You can make this fun for them as well by tying the completion of daily activities to some sort of reward.
  • Make school fun!  This is easier said than done.  Encourage your child to read books for a library summer reading program or as part of a reading list for school.  Click here for a list of ways to help your child enjoy reading.
  • Go school shopping together.  It may be difficult to find time with work and summer activities, but try to set aside a day where you can take your children shopping for clothes and supplies.  You can make this a special day for them by going shopping, and going out to eat after everything is purchased.  Who knows, this could become a tradition they look forward to every year!
  • Have a final celebration before school starts.  You can have a bonfire, go to the beach for a day, or take a special trip like going to the zoo among other fun things.  This will give you and your child a good memory to think of as they get back into the school routine.
Here are some additional ideas and resources to help you and your child make the most of the remaining time with summer break.

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