How does school affect adolescents

Schools: The Right Place for a Healthy Start

Schools have direct contact with 56 million students for at least 6 hours a day during the most critical years of their social, physical, and intellectual development.1,2 School health programs can reduce the prevalence of health risk behaviors among youth and have a positive effect on academic performance.3

Each school day provides students the opportunity to learn the importance of behaviors and skills needed to engage in a healthy lifestyle. It is easier and more effective to develop healthy behaviors during childhood than to change unhealthy behaviors during adulthood.4 Schools can contribute directly to a student’s ability to successfully practice behaviors that promote health and well-being.5

Health Risk Behaviors Often Begin in Adolescence

Many adolescents engage in behaviors and experiences that place them at risk, sometimes without realizing it. Preventable health risk behaviors are often established during adolescence and can continue into adulthood, contributing to several of the leading causes of death, disability, and social problems including:6

    • Sexual behaviors that can result in HIV infection, other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and pregnancy
    • Behaviors that can contribute to unintentional injury and violence
    • Behaviors that can contribute to substance use

These risk behaviors can result in serious health outcomes such as early sexual initiation, substance use, and violence, which can adversely affect adolescents and young adults.7