Promoting the health and wellbeing of our country’s youth is an effort I believe all citizens and professionals support. Our youth and their families play pivotal roles in our society. Yet there is much that we need to learn about our youth and how they as a population have increased in size and have changed in needs and behavior over the years. For instance, children and adolescents from birth to age 17 now constitute one-fourth of our country’s population. The U.S. adolescent population increased by 16.6 percent from 1990 to 2000 and the population is projected to increase to an estimated 41.6 million by the year 2010. While the youth are healthier than adults in general, from 13 to 23 percent experience special health care needs or chronic illnesses and disabilities. In 2005 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance survey showed that 14.5% of students in grades 9 to 12 had lifetime asthma and 13.1% were overweight. To add to the health issues large differences exist between the stresses, pressures and lifestyles lived by today’s youth than that previously experienced by earlier generations. Seventy one percent of all deaths among persons aged 10 to 24 years result from four causes: motor vehicle crashes, other unintentional injuries, homicide and suicide.
Professionals who serve our population of youth need more knowledge, skills, tools, and training to promote positive outcomes. In this issue we offer a diversity of papers that focus on a variety of approaches to and issues that surround our youth and their eventual growth, health and wellbeing. They cover the gamut from older youth reaching younger youth to supporting pediatricians with parenting information, and from direct delivery of educational curriculum to students to looking at the role of parental communication quality on youth behavior. These papers will benefit many areas of your efforts with youth. Enjoy!
Jackie McClelland, PhD