A bit predictable, but, nevertheless…

Some time ago, reports Lisa Rapaport, the CDC asked 14,800 young people to complete health surveys; they were, on average, 15 years old. The highest possible “connectedness” score for their relationships at school was 30; it was also 30 for their responses regarding their family relationships.

The average school relationships score on that initial survey 22.1/30; it was 25.5/30 for family relationships..

Years later, when the original participants were, on average, 28…

  1. Those with higher levels of school connectedness as adolescents had “lower rates of emotional distress, suicidal thoughts, physical violence victimization and perpetuation, multiple sex partners, sexually transmitted infections, and drug abuse.
  2. The findings were similar for those who had initially scored higher on family connectedness. Their odds of experiencing violence were lower, including intimate partner violence, multiple sex partners, sexually transmitted infections, and drug abuse.

Not so fortunate were those with lower scores on both of the initial surveys. In fact, they were 48% and 66%, respectively,  more likely to suffer a range of risky health behaviors as as adults.

In other words, our adolescent experiences and relationships may well set the stage for what is to come in adulthood.

Says Mercedes Carnethon at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine: “While connectedness through school can set social norms among a peer group, for example a sports team [that] reinforces the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle for better performance, these social norms are solidified when families share those same values with their teens.”

She then reminds us all that, “A family that also models close relationship, healthy conflict resolution and healthy lifestyles helps a teen navigate how to integrate these important principles into his/her own life. Connectedness at school and in the family are interrelated and reinforce one another.”

And, that, with my many thanks, is the bottom line. ~ Carol