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Risky Behaviors Among Teens

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"Teens are at high behavioral risk for acquiring most STDs. Teenagers and young adults are more likely than other age groups to have multiple sex partners, to engage in unprotected sex, and, for young women, to choose sexual partners older than themselves. Moreover, young women are biologically more susceptible to chlamydia, gonorrhea and HIV." (http://www.cdc.gov/std/Trends2000/trends2000.pd). In the United States alone teen births are extremely high, they represent about 10 percent of 4 million births each year. Not only does having a child during the teenage years causes social, emotional, and physical problems it also cost the United States 9 billion dollars a year. When having unprotected sex, not only pregnancy is a concern but receiving a sexually transmitted disease is a huge concern as well. In order to treat STDs in America it cost the government $17 million a year. The two most common STDs that teenagers catch are chlamydia, and gonorrhea. As a public health official it is important to know why do teenagers continually put themselves in situations that can alter their lives. Another thing public officials need to look into is the adolescents psychosexual health. There have been so many studies looking at the vantage point on the amount STDs, abortions, and pregnancies teens have. Now that depression is a growing concern in adolescents today, looking into the correlation between sexual activity and depression will be of great help to the public health community (Kosunen,Heino, Rimpela, and Laippala). In order to find these answers we must first examine two human behavioral theories: 1) Bronfenbrenner's ecological theory and 2) the attachment theory. Once we have the answers to the question of why, then we can start the prevention of teen pregnancies and the spread of STDs amongst our youth.

Bronfenbrenner is the leading contributor to the ecological systems theory. The ecological theory uses four types of roles and norms that shape children's development. In order to make the


theory is easy-to-understand Bronfenbrenner described it as the microsystem, mesosystem, exosystem, and macro system. It is stated that, "This theory looks at a child's development within the context of the system of relationships that form his or her environment. Bronfenbrenner's theory defines complex "layers" of environment, each having an effect on a child's development. This theory has recently been renamed "bio ecological systems theory" to emphasize that a child's own biology is a primary environment fueling her development. The interaction between factors in the child's maturing biology, his immediate family/community environment, and the societal landscape fuels and steers his development. Changes or conflict in any one layer will ripple throughout other layers. To study a child's development then, we must look not only at the child and her immediate environment, but also at the interaction of the larger environment as well" (http://pt3.nl.edu/paquetteryanwebquest.pdf).

The microsystem is where the child has direct daily contact with certain structures. The microsystem includes the child's family, school, daycare, and the child's neighborhood. Since this is the most important part of the ecological system the relationships have an impact that can go into different directions(both away from the child and towards the child). "For example, a child's parents may affect his beliefs and behavior; however, the child also affects the behavior and beliefs of the parent. Bronfenbrenner calls these bi-directional influences, and he shows how they occur among all levels of environment. The interaction of structures within a layer and interactions of structures between layers is key to this theory. At the microsystem level, bi-directional influences are strongest and have the greatest impact on the child. However, interactions at outer levels can still impact the inner structures." ((http://pt3.nl.edu/paquetteryanwebquest.pdf). The mesosystem is the connection between the


child's microsystems. This can be the connection between the teacher and the child's parents. The exosystem is the layer where the child does not function directly. This could be the parent's work place or work schedule; even though the child does not function directly in this atmosphere the child can still feel the positive or negative consequences associated with the interaction.

The macrosystem consists of the child's culture, values, customs, and laws. For example if the child's culture believes that it takes a village to raise a child, not only will mom and dad punish you but Ms. Susie the next door neighbor will too. This gives the parent's many more resources in order to raise their child in the appropriate way.

"Attachment theory describes the dynamics of long-term relationships between humans

especially as within families and between life-long friends. Its most important tenet is that an infant needs to develop a relationship with at least one primary caregiver for social and emotional development to occur normally, and that further relationships build on the patterns developed in the first relationships. Attachment theory is



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