Youth in the 1980s: Social and health concerns

Today more than 1 billion of the world's nearly 5 billion people are between the ages of 10-19 years.  In developing countries, there are 860 million people in this age group.  National and international agencies are focusing new attention on the problems of youth and on programs to help young people make the transition to responsible adulthood.  The major challenges that face young people today are in the areas of education (high drop out rates, especially among girls), employment (unemployment rates 2-10 times as high for those under age 20 than among older workers), marriage (increases in age at marriage raise the risk of an unwanted pregnancy before marriage), and reproductive health (early sexual activity can expose young people to sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancy, life-threatening complications from pregnancy and delivery, more infant mortality and morbidity, and social and economic handicaps for young parents and their children).  In addition, young people are increasingly exposed to alcohol, tobacco, and drug use.  New approaches to these issues have been developed by parents, schools, churches, health organizations, social agencies, and family planning associations.  Educational programs have been designed to help parents communicate with their children; to introduce family life and responsible parenthood into the school curriculum; and to reach out-of-school youth at home and at work.  Health and social service centers provide information and guidance through individual and group counseling sessions, peer group meetings, and telephone hot lines.  Moreover, the mass media are beginning to carry messages urging self-discipline and providing information about avoiding pregnancy.  Such efforts must be continued if young people are to achieve all they can in the areas of education, employment, health, and family life.

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health,Center for Communication Programs,Population Information Program