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Improving the Health of Adolescent Girls

NCJ Number
J E Meyer; J M Leiman; N Rothschild; M Falik
Date Published
63 pages
Based on the 1997 Commonwealth Fund Survey of the Health of Adolescent Girls, this report documents the state of adolescent girls' health in America and proposes policy goals for improving the health of adolescent girls.
Survey findings confirm the need to broaden the approach to girls' health in America. Although most girls enjoy good physical health, many suffer from high stress, symptoms of severe depression, physical or sexual abuse, or eating disorders. Many girls eat poorly and fail to exercise, and many place their health at serious risk by smoking, drinking, or using illegal drugs. Girls' sense of well-being and control over their health declines over the course of adolescence, as do their rates of exercise and practice of good eating habits. The seven policy goals presented in this report embody several important messages. First, the health of adolescent girls should be approached broadly, including prevention, mental health, and physical safety, as well as reproductive health and avoidance of risky behaviors. Second, there is an urgency to this task, given the powerful links between adolescent practices and health in later life. Third, organizations and individuals active on behalf of women's health need to make the health of adolescent girls a high priority and advocate more national attention to their needs and concerns. Fourth, safety is a major issue, and communities should protect girls from violence and abuse. Fifth, business, government, foundations, the media, community organizations, educators, and health professionals all have roles to play in ensuring that appropriate supports are in place to help girls and their parents meet the health challenges of adolescence. For the section on "Safety, Violence, and Abuse," see NCJ-176714. Appended agenda for a symposium on the health of adolescent girls and 217 notes


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