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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 such as exposure to violence, early marriage, school dropout and unemployment, especially among adolescent girls in low and middle income countries.

Significant evidence and knowledge gaps regarding children’s specific vulnerabilities in this critical period of development and rapid transition remain. The Adolescent Health Lancet Series (2012) highlighted links between structural determinants, such as national wealth, inequality and education systems, and outcomes for adolescents. There is also increasing evidence of the role social factors (beliefs, attitudes and cultural norms) play in interventions that aim to improve wellbeing. Greater understanding of how different determinants interact and more systematic evidence- based guidance is needed to enable an effective structural approach in programme design.

The applied research programme, Social and Structural Determinants of Adolescent Wellbeing in Low and Middle Income Countries, seeks to advance knowledge on adolescent wellbeing across cultures and contexts, to shape more effective policies and address the most urgent issues. Together with DFID, the government of Italy, Sida, UNICEF and others, the global research partnership is working with multiple national governments and institutions to improve understandings of various dimensions of adolescents’ lives.

Adolescent wellbeing

Despite great strides in improving overall child well-being, progress has been slower in key areas of adolescent vulnerability such as exposure to violence, early marriage, school dropout and unemployment, especially among adolescent girls in low and middle income countries.

Significant evidence and knowledge gaps regarding children’s specific vulnerabilities in this critical period of development and rapid transition remain. The Adolescent Health Lancet Series (2012) highlighted links between structural determinants, such as national wealth, inequality and education systems, and outcomes for adolescents. There is also increasing evidence of the role social factors (beliefs, attitudes and cultural norms) play in interventions that aim to improve wellbeing. Greater understanding of how different determinants interact and more systematic evidence- based guidance is needed to enable an effective structural approach in programme design.

The applied research programme, Social and Structural Determinants of Adolescent Wellbeing in Low and Middle Income Countries, seeks to advance knowledge on adolescent wellbeing across cultures and contexts, to shape more effective policies and address the most urgent issues. Together with DFID, the government of Italy, Sida, UNICEF and others, the global research partnership is working with multiple national governments and institutions to improve understandings of various dimensions of adolescents’ lives.

LATEST PUBLICATIONS

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.

AUTHOR(S)

Zlata Bruckauf; Gwyther Rees
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.

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
Disadvantaged, vulnerable and/or marginalized adolescents (DVMAs) are individuals aged 10–19, who are excluded from social, economic and/or educational opportunities enjoyed by other adolescents in their community due to numerous factors beyond their control. This brief summarizes the health and well-being inequities experienced by DVMAs and the need for research with this group. It reviews the challenges and barriers to their inclusion in research; shares practical implications and best practices for their inclusion in research; and addresses ethical challenges and approaches to research with DVMAs.

AUTHOR(S)

Colette L. Auerswald; Amber Akemi Piatt; Ali Mirzazadeh
Undertaking youth-led participatory action research is an increasingly popular approach to advancing adolescent engagement and empowerment. This research - led by adolescents themselves - promotes social change and improves community conditions for healthy development. This brief reviews the theoretical and empirical rationales for youth-led participatory action research, its key principles, phases, practical implications and ethical issues.

AUTHOR(S)

Emily J. Ozer; Amber Akemi Piatt
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