Problem Behaviors in Adolescents

Dr. Purushothaman
September 4, 2013

A fifth or more of a nationally representative sample of school-attending adolescents report engaging in problem behaviors such as skipping school, using alcohol, fighting, shoplifting, and stealing. A smaller but significant number of adolescents report engaging in risky sexual behaviors. All of these behaviors have potentially serious consequences for adolescents, their family and friends, their school, and society. Nurses are in a unique position to help identify these behaviors in adolescents, educate school personnel about the behaviors, educate adolescents about the risks they face when they engage in these behaviors, and assist parents to access the resources they need to help children who may be engaging in these problem behaviors.

Adolescents are at high risk for the development of problem behaviors that are distressing and socially disruptive (Bartlett, Holditch-Davis, & Belyea, 2005; Brooks, 1997). Some problem behaviors, such as having multiple sex partners, can result in problems for the individual, and others, such as stealing or using weapons, can result in problems for others as well as the adolescent, and can lead to involvement with the legal system. Thus, problem behaviors in adolescents can have serious consequences for the adolescents, their family and friends, their schools, and society. Child and adolescent health practitioners frequently report that problem behaviors are the most common reason they see clients in their practices (Lahey et al., 2000). Nurses, often with great access to adolescents and their parents through school settings, primary health care offices, and public health departments are well positioned to assess, educate, and intervene with adolescents, school personnel and parents.

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