The problems that confront adolescents


Adolescence is a sensitive stage in life which requires proper care, attention and guidance from parents, teachers, counselors and other community members. It is during this stage that children undergo biological changes and associated change in thinking patterns and hence it is essential that they entertain good thoughts and develop healthy habits. In order to mould the child into responsible, well behaving and successful citizens it is essential for the elders to help the adolescent children appreciate proper social behavior. Successful youth programs are those which involve youths in active leadership roles such as peer counselors, program organizers etc. Hence the most important task is first to make adolescent children understand what constitutes appropriate and inappropriate social behavior. [134]

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Parents have the greatest influence in the making of the child. Researchers have found that the behavior of adolescent children is largely defined by the way their parents perceive common social activities or norms. [100] Teachers come next to parents in helping the child learn to discriminate between what is good and bad behavior. They play an important role in constructing the character of the children. Teachers are not just restricted to the role of academic instructors but more importantly they have the responsibility of the overall development of the children. School counselors provide the appropriate structure to counsel children with erratic behavior without being critical and help them understand positive social norms. So it goes without saying that parents, teachers, counselors and most importantly adolescents themselves have an important role in understanding what appropriate social behavior is during the adolescent stage.

2) Among the various problems that confront adolescents the most concerning is the issue of drug abuse and alcohol consumption. Particularly, the use of ecstasy is very common among teenage children. As per the data released by the national institute on drug abuse more than 90% of 10th graders and 75% of 8th graders feel that access to alcohol is “very easy.” [23] Drug abuse includes a subset of other problems such as a general decline in academic performance, increase in violent behavior, etc. An associated evil is the increasing sexual activity among teenage children. Adolescents who are abusing drugs are more likely to give in to peer pressure and less likely to resist sexual activity. What is more disturbing is that children under the influence of drugs and alcohol take more risks and do not follow safe sex measures. This is attested by the increase in HIV infection rate among adolescents. [27]

Adolescents are curious and experimental by nature and substance abuse and sexual activity are the two marked unwelcome behavioral trends among this population. Most adolescent problems are related to each other. Violent behavior, mood swings, absenteeism are all in fact associated factors of substance abuse. Studies by Richardson et al. (1989) and YMCA (2001) have identified that the single most important factor responsible for this increasing negative behavior among adolescents is the lack of parental or adult supervision and the increasing amount of time that they spend alone. The study conducted on 5000 8th grade students in San Diego has confirmed that children left home alone are more likely to try alcohol and drugs early in their life. [29]

3) School Counselors have the huge responsibility as human resource personnel and are in charge of initiating collaborative efforts and implementing counseling programs. Adolescence is a transitional phase where children pick up social skills and learn how to interact with the society independently. During this stage they are faced with situations that demands making choices of their own. It is common for children to succumb to peer pressure and give in to unhealthy and bad practices. School Counselors are in charge of implementing preventive as well as interventional programs. They have to mobilize the available resources and guide parents and students to the appropriate services. The function as a liaison between teachers, students, psychologists and other medical practioners and social service personal in implementing collaborative programs.

Student counselors are can organize a student led drug abuse prevention committee and create awareness among the adolescent children. Study results have confirmed the positive value of such student led programs in preventing the malice of drug abuse. It has also been found that multiyear preventive programs have long lasting positive effects that short-term programs. [167]. Programs such as ‘Friendly Persuasion’, ‘Life skills Training’, ‘Midwestern Prevention Project’ which were implemented in schools had a considerable measure of success in reducing drug abuse and in delaying the onset of drinking.[155-158]. Student counselors have to interact with teachers, social workers, health care professionals and other community-based groups to workout and implement student activity programs that can be run by adolescents.

4) by providing a positive developmental environment at school the student counselor optimizes the chances of a student succeeding in his overall development. As Pittman states, “Adolescents who are merely problem-free are not fully prepared for their future” [67]. Fulfillment of basic needs, self-identity, intrinsic motivation or the curiosity to learn about the world, a sense of competence and social security (emotional balance) are the factors which are identified as the core assets of any individual. Physical, psychological, cognitive, emotional as well as social development of the individual is crucial for the future well-being of the adolescent children. School counselor must ensure initiatives in all concerned domains so that the student develops all of these core assets.

For example, the physical aspect of well being can be taken care of by introducing aerobic endurance programs, sporting activities and other suitable activities. This would help a lot in checking the obesity crisis that is bothering the nation. Similarly intellectual aspect can be developed by conducting regular quiz programs, presentations etc. The counselor must form a student committee and make the students take responsibility to organize and actively participate in them. This sharing of responsibility improves the organizational skills and hence the self-esteem. The counselor must also collaborate with other social workers outside the school setup and arrange for implementation of community-based programs. This would help the students develop social skills and evoke in them a commitment to work for the betterment of society. These youth oriented programs would create a positive impact by improving the resilience of the student and help them resist bad influence and dangerous habits. [70 -75]

5) Collaboration is the key to success especially when resource allocation is limited and the demand is greater. The school counselor should look for collaborative effort with many social and private sector organizations and implement programs which are sponsored by these organizations. Community-based programs, environmental programs, cultural enrichment programs are some of the programs which would stimulate the young minds to channel their energy in a productive way. [127]. The student counselor for example can arrange with the traffic police department and train students to regulate traffic and assist them during the peak hours. This would have a positive effect and also create in them a sense of respect for the traffic rules. ‘Designated Driver’ programs can also be implemented with student volunteers (for those with acceptable age) which would help minimize accidents due to drunken driving.

Similarly counselors can arrange with therapists to organize screening camps and other health initiative programs. Campaigns against drug abuse, alcohol consumption and the dangers of unsafe sex can be organized with the help of the medicos and in cooperation with medical organizations. These student led campaigns are the best way to create the awareness among adolescents about the health risks. Summer camps can be organized for students involving sports, music, computer training and other value-based education programs. [133]. These collaborative programs offer an excellent way for students to assimilate healthy values in their lives and develop a good character. And we all know that character building alongside accumulation of knowledge is what constitutes quality education.


CBASSE, “Community Programs to Promote Youth Development (2002)”

National Academy Press, Available Online at,

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