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An educated adolescent is a healthy one.


A teenager's understanding about health-related issues appears to be related to the amount of time schools devote to such topics, says a recent national survey. As a result, schools can--and should--be able to help older youngsters develop healthier lifestyles.

The National Adolescent Student Health Survey was given to more than 11,000 8th- and 10th-graders at more than 200 schools in 20 states in 1987. The survey, the first of its kind since the 1960s, focused on eight health problems, including AIDS, use of tobacco, alcohol and drugs, violence and suicide. Although nearly all the students reported receiving instruction on the use of controlled substances, less than half said they had been educated on ways to avoid fighting and violence. Only about a third got instruction on AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. About one-fourth said they had been taught about suicide prevention and about using health-care products and checking nutritional labels on foods.

Indeed, the lack of education on certain topics was evident. Nearly half of the students said they believed that donating blood increases the likelihood of contracting AIDS; roughly 66 percent were of the opinion that mere washing after sex was an effective way to avoid sexually transmitted diseases. (Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, March 10, 1989; 38:147-150.)
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Title Annotation:National Adolescent Student Health Survey
Publication:Medical Update
Date:May 1, 1989
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