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Understanding Adolescent Health Risk and Protection in Rural Kenya

Molly Secor-Turner, Ph.D., R.N., and Brandy A. Randall, Ph.D.

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Things May Fall Apart…but You Will Make it Through with a Little Help from your Family, Friends, Teachers, and School

The transitions from childhood to adolescence and then from elementary to middle and high school and into college can be challenging for all youth.  However, they can be especially difficult for youth from low income, ethnic minority, or immigrant families.  As they transition to middle school, high school, and college, these youth often begin to exceed their parents’ level of schooling, thus making it necessary for them to rely on peers, teachers, and community mentors for help with school work and education/career goals  (Azmitia & Cooper, 2011; Cooper, 2011; Dennis, Phinney, & Chuateco, 2005).  In some cases, youths’ academic and career goals may be in conflict with the needs of their families and friends.  For example, families of college-bound youth may pressure them to attend a college close to home so they can continue to help the family economically, provide childcare, or serve as English translators (Chao, 2006; Grau, Azmitia, & Quatelbaum, 2008; Orellana, 2009; Syed, Azmitia, & Cooper, 2011).  Also, while their less-academically oriented friends often provide encouragement and support, over time higher achieving, low income, ethnic minority, or first generation students can feel alienated from their friends and peers. Because they also often feel they have little in common with their high achieving middle/upper income ethnic majority peers, these youth can feel that they do not belong at school, home, or their community (Azmitia & Radmacher, 2012; Azmitia, Syed, & Radmacher, in press; Johnson, Solbe, & Leonard, 2007; Orbe 2008; Ostrove & Long, 2009).

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Who’s more likely to have sex, a girl who likes her body or one who doesn’t?

Rosalie Corona, Ph.D., Virginia Commonwealth University

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Talking about conflict with parents: Five observations and two questions

Adolescence is frequently portrayed as a time of increasing parent-child conflict, thanks in large parts to the roles played by G. Stanley Hall and Anna Freud.  As adolescents and their parents actively negotiate new roles, responsibilities, values, and expectations on the way to adulthood, parents also tend to disclose more personal information with their soon-to-be-adult adolescents than with younger children.  However, parent-adolescent conflict, even in small doses, can be distressing to children and is associated with emotional distress and unhappiness. 

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