The Daily Dose Blog The Daily Dose Blog Home

Our Adolescent World

The true meaning of "the children are our future"

By Rich_Maloof Apr 25, 2012 4:28PM

At the United Nations this week, the focus is not on nuclear arms, peace in the Middle East, or the downhill tumble of the global economy. A subject even more central to the well-being of the planet is in the spotlight of the world stage: the health and behavior of adolescents.

Much as we may be in denial about it, tomorrow's world is being shaped by those same young people who are hanging around the malls, crying over zits timed for prom season, and getting sick on their first poorly mixed vodka tonic. But as the UN's 47-nation Commission on Population and Development understands, nothing less than future of the Earth's people — global health agendas, population booms, the interconnectivity of nations — rests in their hands. And they rest in ours.

Dual reports by UNICEF and The Lancet (one of the world's leading medical journals) will help inform the discussions and decisions of the UN commission. Here are some of their recent findings. 

• Nearly half of the world’s population, almost 3 billion people, are under the age of 25.  Among the total population of adolescents (ages 10 to 19), 1.3 billion are in developing countries and over 500 million of them are adolescent girls. 

• Today's adolescents are more exposed to harmful alcohol consumption, sexually transmitted diseases, and other risks than ever before.

• Suicide is the leading cause of death for adolescents worldwide.

• The most prominent non-communicable diseases are linked to the most common risk factors; namely, tobacco use, harmful use of alcohol, an unhealthy diet, and lack of physical activity. All of these risk factors have their origin in adolescence. 

• Early marriage is a common experience for many girls and raises the likelihood of early childbearing. Adolescents today are often forced to abandon their childhoods and take on adult roles before they are physically ready.

• An estimated 2.2 million adolescents are living with HIV, and about 60 per cent of those are girls, many of whom do not know they are infected.

• Each year 1.4 million adolescents die from road traffic injuries, childbirth complications, suicide, AIDS, violence and other causes. In some Latin American countries, more adolescent boys die as a result of homicide than from road traffic injuries or suicide. In Africa, complications in pregnancy and childbirth are the top cause of death for girls aged 15 to 19.

• Adolescence is often perceived as the healthiest stage of life, and many consequences of risky behaviours or unhealthy lifestyles in adolescence will only be seen later on. Some of these adverse behaviours, such as excessive use of the Internet, are completely new to the present generation of adults, with consequences that remain unknown. 

• The young people who were at the forefront of the social unrest across north Africa and the Middle East beginning in December 2010 — and succeeded in toppling the restrictive regimes they fought against — faced serious threats to their lives and health. Adolescents have an increasing capacity to be active agents of change, but recent history raises concerns about the extent of their exposure to violence, exploitation, and abuse, and suggests the need for greater protection of human rights.

• Investment in the education of adolescents has clear benefits to individuals and their health, but is also a strategy for enhancing employment, human rights, social capital, and community wealth.

As The Lancet notes, adolescents provide energy, innovation, productivity, and progress. Only by understanding and investing in youth can we set the short-term goals that stand to make our world a better, healthier, and happier place to be.


inspire: live a better life

  • 13 ways to improve your life this spring

    13 ways to improve your life this spring

    No one looks forward to washing windows or storing the ski gear or the other chores associated with spring-cleaning. But this annual ritual does not have to be a drag, if you approach it in a slightly different way. "You've been cooped up with this cave-like mentality all winter; now it's time to break free and play," says R.D. Chin, a feng shui architect and consultant in New York City. "It's time to follow the cycle of nature, get rid of the clutter, and free up your mind." Here's our idea of what a truly effective spring-cleaning can look like.

  •  David Paul Morris, Bloomberg via Getty Images //  David Paul Morris, Bloomberg via Getty Images ( David Paul Morris, Bloomberg via Getty Images)

    Top Americans of all time named

    American presidents garner most votes over celebrities in a poll ranking the 100 most significant citizens.

  • The 10 coldest travel destinations on Earth

    The 10 coldest travel destinations on Earth

    Heading to a world-class beach town is always a safe bet for a great vacation, but if you want something that tests your limits, consider a more extreme spot. Here are 10 places around the world that require a winter coat year-round and offer spectacular glaciers, ice features, and the best snow anywhere.

  • 50 hidden gems in the US

    51 hidden gems in the US

    From the Grand Canyon to the Statue of Liberty, the U.S. boasts world-famous national parks, historical sites and landmarks. Beyond the well-known locations, there's a wealth of undiscovered destinations stretching from coast to coast worth visiting. From scenic sand dunes to wild mountains, here's 51 places within America that you've probably never heard of.

  • Hudson Bay has old earth rocks

    10 interesting facts about the Earth

    How much do you really know about the Earth? In honor of Earth Day, April 22, we explore some interesting and fun facts about the fifth-largest planet of our solar system.

  • stress and happiness

    Beat stress and boost happiness

    Most of the stuff we worry about never happens.

  • How to end an email

    You've written an email, and need to wrap it up. You could end with a simple "Sincerely," tack on your name, and then shoot it out the door, proving definitively that you suck at communication.

  • Go where few have gone

    Craziest places to visit on the planet

    Here are nine of the most extreme trips on the planet -- and the outfitters that take adventurers over the edge and back again.

  • 10 serious adventures anyone can conquer

    10 serious adventures anyone can conquer

    A true challenge is within your reach. All it takes is a few months to get in shape and a few days off work.

  • How to set a world record

    How to set a world record

    Think you got what it takes to be included in the pages of the Guinness Book of World Records? We consult one of the judges to help you on your quest.

  • User-friendly home automation

    8 ways to smarten up your home

    Just a few years ago, the term "home automation" meant a bunch of blinking lights and a headache. But thanks to simpler interfaces and the rise of smartphones, new tech can transform your house into a safer, more comfortable, less wasteful place.

  • The 13 most annoying people on the airplane

    The 13 most annoying people on the airplane

    If you're like most people, flying around in a big metal tube in the sky isn't your idea of a fun time. From the terrible food to the cramped space, flying can be a miserable experience. Don't make the flight even more soul-sucking by breaking airplane etiquette. We've compiled a list of the worst-inflight offenders. by Rebecca Pattee

about rich maloof
buzzing now on msn living
inspire videos
editor's picks