A fascinating and encouraging report issued in Canada examined the association between positive assets in teenagers’ lives and their level of health. The five positive assets included the teens’ perceptions of parental nurturing, parental monitoring, school engagement, volunteerism, and peer connectedness. The study revealed that teens who reported more of these positive assets in their lives also reported a higher level of health.
A total of 83 percent of 12 – 15-year-old teens who reported four to five of these assets also said they enjoyed very good to excellent health. A report of less of these positive assets was associated with lower levels of health. For example, 74 percent of these teens with two to three assets reported very good to excellent health. And only 54 percent of those with zero to one asset had this level of health.
Another encouraging finding among these Canadian teens— more than half of the youth aged 12–15 reported high levels of parental nurturing and parental monitoring, and three quarters of these teens reported high levels of school engagement and involvement in volunteer activities.
According to Jennifer Zelmer, the Institute’s vice-president of research and analysis, “This is the first time we’ve been able to make a clear link between relationships and health. She said most analyses of adolescent health tend to focus on negative behaviors such as smoking and drug use, but few explore the influence of the social and home environment. She also noted that the healthy teens came from various socioeconomic backgrounds. “There were rich kids and poor kids with nurturing parents,” she said.
The study also revealed that the principle worries of adolescents are lack of money, lack of time, and not being understood by parents. Other noteworthy findings - 67 percent of youth reported being in excellent or very good health, 71 percent reported high levels of self-worth, and the teens with more positive assets also reported less use of tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana.
This article appeared in Pathways to Family Wellness magazine, Issue #11.