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Adolescent wellbeing

Despite great strides in improving overall child well-being, progress has been slower in key areas of adolescent vulnerability, including exposure to violence, early marriage and school completion, especially among adolescent girls. The Lancet Commission ‘Our Future’ (2016) has examined the rapidly changing social and structural determinants of adolescent well-being and their implications on health promotion and prevention work.  It stresses the importance of adolescence as a critical period of formative growth that affects well-being across the life course. Although evidence is building in some domains of adolescent’s lives, greater understanding of the transition to adulthood and how different underlying factors interact is needed in order to inform the basis for effective programming and policy. The need to incorporate consideration of different structural factors into programme design is gaining support, yet there is still little guidance on systematic evidence-based approaches to employ in practice.

The Adolescent Research Programme is advancing global understandings of adolescent well-being in selected countries and themes by defining the drivers of well-being outcomes (‘causes and consequences’) and examining effective policy and programme interventions (‘what works’).

Research Priorities 2014 – 2018
• Rigorous evidence generation on structural and social determinants of adolescent wellbeing across sectors and throughout the life course.
• Understanding formal institutions, systems and policy processes as well as social and cultural norms affecting behaviours and policy implementation.
• Analytical focus on age and gender gaps to shed light on the main drivers of adolescent vulnerability.

Global Research Partnership
Together with UK Department of International Development, Italy, SIDA, UNICEF as well as US Department of Labour, the Oak Foundation, and others, the global research partnership is working with multiple national governments and institutions to improve understandings of various dimensions of adolescents’ lives.
The programme is linked to the Gender and Adolescence Global Evidence initiative. It leverages UNICEF’s programme technical capacity as well as networks of regional and country offices and implementing partners in low and middle income countries.
Drawing on multi –disciplinary research expertise, the UNICEF programme has produced cutting edge research that explores what works to improve outcomes for adolescents.
Quality evidence is having impact - informing effective policy and interventions in focus countries and beyond.

Adolescent wellbeing

Despite great strides in improving overall child well-being, progress has been slower in key areas of adolescent vulnerability, including exposure to violence, early marriage and school completion, especially among adolescent girls. The Lancet Commission ‘Our Future’ (2016) has examined the rapidly changing social and structural determinants of adolescent well-being and their implications on health promotion and prevention work.  It stresses the importance of adolescence as a critical period of formative growth that affects well-being across the life course. Although evidence is building in some domains of adolescent’s lives, greater understanding of the transition to adulthood and how different underlying factors interact is needed in order to inform the basis for effective programming and policy. The need to incorporate consideration of different structural factors into programme design is gaining support, yet there is still little guidance on systematic evidence-based approaches to employ in practice.

The Adolescent Research Programme is advancing global understandings of adolescent well-being in selected countries and themes by defining the drivers of well-being outcomes (‘causes and consequences’) and examining effective policy and programme interventions (‘what works’).

Research Priorities 2014 – 2018
• Rigorous evidence generation on structural and social determinants of adolescent wellbeing across sectors and throughout the life course.
• Understanding formal institutions, systems and policy processes as well as social and cultural norms affecting behaviours and policy implementation.
• Analytical focus on age and gender gaps to shed light on the main drivers of adolescent vulnerability.

Global Research Partnership
Together with UK Department of International Development, Italy, SIDA, UNICEF as well as US Department of Labour, the Oak Foundation, and others, the global research partnership is working with multiple national governments and institutions to improve understandings of various dimensions of adolescents’ lives.
The programme is linked to the Gender and Adolescence Global Evidence initiative. It leverages UNICEF’s programme technical capacity as well as networks of regional and country offices and implementing partners in low and middle income countries.
Drawing on multi –disciplinary research expertise, the UNICEF programme has produced cutting edge research that explores what works to improve outcomes for adolescents.
Quality evidence is having impact - informing effective policy and interventions in focus countries and beyond.

LATEST PUBLICATIONS

We live in an information society, where the flow of information in the virtual environment is unprecedented. Web 2.0 platforms – and recently Web 3.0 platforms and the Internet of Things (IoT) – represent an important step forward in enhancing the lives of both adults and children everywhere, by combining greater efficiencies with a wide availability of new tools that can boost individual creativity and collective production. This new environment has exposed adults and children to fresh challenges that deserve special attention, especially those surrounding privacy. The main objective of this paper is to address the challenges posed to child privacy online and the impact that these challenges might have on other rights such as freedom of expression, access to information and public participation. To do this, the paper first analyses the current (and foreseen) threats to child privacy online and the various approaches adopted by government and/or the private sector to tackle this issue. The paper also examines whether children’s perspectives and needs are considered in international debates on technology regulation, including in regard to the so-called ‘right to be forgotten’. It then contextualizes the protection of privacy (and data protection) in relation to other fundamental rights in the online environment, arguing that in most cases this interaction is rather positive, with the enforcement of the right to privacy serving to protect other rights. The paper concludes by proposing some policy recommendations on how to better address the protection of children’s online privacy. These objectives are achieved through literature review and analysis of legal instruments.

AUTHOR(S)

Mario Viola de Azevedo Cunha
This quarterly digest synthesizes the latest research findings in adolescent well-being over the last three months. This edition includes compelling research, resources, news and events that address the issue of adolescent health from many perspectives.

This Report Card offers an assessment of child well-being in the context of sustainable development across 41 countries of the European Union (EU) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Mental health is increasingly gaining the spotlight in the media and public discourse of industrialized countries. The problem is not new, but thanks to more open discussions and fading stigma, it is emerging as one of the most critical concerns of public health today. Psychological problems among children and adolescents can be wide-ranging and may include attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), disruptive conduct, anxiety, eating and mood disorders and other mental illnesses. Consistent evidence shows the links between adolescents’ mental health and the experience of bullying. Collecting internationally comparable data to measure mental health problems among children and adolescents will provide important evidence and stimulate governments to improve psychological support and services to vulnerable children.

AUTHOR(S)

Zlata Bruckauf
Evidence from national studies in developed and developing countries suggests that girls spend more time on housework. The most common explanation relates to behaviour modelling as a mechanism of gender role reproduction: children form habits based on parental models. This brief shows that participation in household chores is an essential part of children’s lives. There is a common pattern of a gender gap between boys’ and girls’ daily participation in housework across a diverse range of socio-economic and cultural contexts in 12 high-income countries. The persistence of this gap points to gender stereotyping – a form of gender role reproduction within a family that potentially can reinforce inequalities over the life-course.

The attitudes that we hold are shaped and nurtured by society, institutions, religion and family; they involve feelings, beliefs and behaviours and represent a form of judgement. These attitudes and values define the power relations, dynamics, opportunities and choices between men and women, boys and girls. Societies vary significantly in the scale of egalitarian attitudes and beliefs related to gender roles and opportunities in education, politics, the family, and the workforce. Progress towards more egalitarian gender values is crucial for achieving gender equality among children and young people, which in turn is a pre-condition for sustainable development.

The new universal Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) call for “reducing at least by half the proportion of men, women and children of all ages living in poverty in all its dimensions according to national definitions” by 2030.

AUTHOR(S)

Yekaterina Chzhen; Zlata Bruckauf; Emilia Toczydlowska
This brief introduces the methodological series Conducting Research with Adolescents from low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), outlining key research themes, intervention types, and their associated methodological implications. It highlights adolescence as a critical phase within the life course and a period of biological and social transition that is itself undergoing change. It makes the case that new understandings from neuroscience have important implications for programming; addressing social and structural determinants is crucial to improving adolescent well-being; inter-sectoral and comprehensive multi-component action is required, as is matching action to need; and gender and equity should always be considered in research, programmes and policy.

AUTHOR(S)

Nicola J. Reavley; Susan M. Sawyer
This brief focuses on quantitative data and indicators to measure adolescent health, social development and well-being. It covers: the principles of good indicator definition; common use of indicators; examples of indicators for adolescent health and social development; existing global data to describe - and populate indicators of - adolescent health and social development; and how to improve data collection efforts.

AUTHOR(S)

Peter Azzopardi; Elissa Kennedy; George C Patton
Written primarily for UNICEF staff, funders of research, policy-makers, ethics committee members and researchers, this brief intends to provide principles and approaches to the common challenges in conducting research with adolescents. It emphasizes the value of research with adolescents and discusses at length the importance of balancing inclusion and protection, concluding with a set of ethical ground rules and recommendations for research with adolescents and examples on how to apply them.

AUTHOR(S)

John Santelli; Sonia Haerizadeh; Terry McGovern
MORE PUBLICATIONS

Project team

Prerna Banati; Michelle Godwin; Kerry Albright; Nikola Balvin; Emanuela Bianchera; Jasmina Byrne; Jose Cuesta; Bina D'Costa; Heidi Loening-Voysey; Michelle Mills; Tia Palermo; Audrey Pereira; Amber Peterman; Alina Potts; Leah Prencipe; Elsa Valli


Partner organizations

African Economic Research Consortium

Gender and Adolescence: Global Evidence

Institute for Social Development Studies - Vietnam

International Center for Research on Women

Policy Research for Development

Social Development Direct

The Bassiouni Group

The Lancet Commission on Adolescent Health and Wellbeing

The Transfer Project

UNICEF - Adolescent Development and Participation Team

UNICEF - CEE/CIS & Baltics Regional Office

UNICEF Bangladesh Country Office

UNICEF ESARO - Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Office

UNICEF Gender Team

UNICEF LACRO - Latin America and Caribbean Regional Office

UNICEF MENARO - Middle East/North Africa Regional Office

UNICEF Peru Country Office

UNICEF ROSA - South Asia Regional Office

UNICEF Tanzania Country Office

UNICEF Vietnam Country Office

UNICEF Zambia Country Office

University of Edinburgh

University of Malawi

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

University of Oxford

University of Zambia

University of Zimbabwe

Young Lives International Study on Childhood Poverty


Videos

Solange's Story: Young people working to end violence in Peru

Blogs

Can data help end corporal punishment?

Supporting families and parents in a rapidly changing world

Are we failing adolescents?


Commentaries

Adolescent Digest Review: One youth's perspective


Related external links

UNICEF Data on Adolescents

UNICEF Adolescents and Youth


External website

UNICEF Gender


RESEARCH WATCH

Will there be an AIDS-free generation?

Are we failing adolescent girls?


Conferences & Meetings

Social Protection “Plus” Workshop


Related Innocenti Projects

2014-2015

An operational structural determinants framework for adolescents

PROJECTS ARCHIVE