Teen health and safety advice for parents

Teens don’t face the same health and wellness challenges as adults but there are risks.

By Greg Hagan, MD, Chief of Pediatrics

We all remember (hopefully) what it was like to be a teenager - feeling invincible while not being weighed down by the challenges of everyday adulthood. Our biggest concern usually entailed homework, the next school dance, or who was going to make the team. Things may have changed over the years, social media and free music streaming to name a few, but many parts of the teenage experience remain the same.

Teens don't face the same health and wellness challenges as adults but there are risks. Did you know that the leading causes of death among teenagers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are accidents (unplanned injuries), homicide (mainly gun violence), suicide and motor vehicle fatalities?

Safety Tips for Teens

You can ensure your teenager is educated about potential risks and help them make safe and healthy choices. Here are a few simple teen safety tips:

  • When driving, make sure they buckle up and put the cell phone away! Besides the benefits of following the law, wearing seat belts is proven to save lives. Drivers under the age of 20 who are distracted are involved in 11 percent of fatal crashes.
  • Talk with your teens openly and honestly about firearms and gun safety.
  • Reduce exposure to violent media and ensure they understand what a healthy dating relationship looks like. Help them get out of ones that are unhealthy.
  • Finally, and more importantly, recognize early warning signs in teens. Studies have revealed that four out of five teen suicide attempts are preceded by clear warning signs. Respond to your teen with love, kindness and concern and get behavioral health support for the entire family.

Health Screening

For teens, annual health screening may include a few lab tests. But mostly, we focus on teen health issues, like those above, including sexual health and avoiding substance abuse. Successful preventive medicine for teens emphasizes healthy lifestyle choices and can lead to lifetime protection against diseases that occur in adulthood.

In addition to your regular pediatrician's office, the CHA Teen Health Centers offer a unique solution with easy access. Students can be seen at their high school - CHA Cambridge Teen Health Center at Cambridge Ridge and Latin School, CHA Teen Connection at Somerville High School, and CHA Everett Teen Health Center at Everett High School. CHA teen centers offer sports physicals, annual physicals, sick visits, immunizations, urgent care, mental health counseling and confidential reproductive health services. Call today to schedule an appointment.

Cambridge Health Alliance

Contributed By: Cambridge Health Alliance

Cambridge Health Alliance is an academic community health care system committed to serving all members of our communities. We have expertise in primary care, mental health and substance abuse, and caring for diverse and complex populations. CHA patients receive high quality care in convenient neighborhood locations, and have seamless access to advanced care through CHA’s affiliation with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. With over 140,000 patients in Cambridge, Somerville Everett and Boston’s Metro North, CHA is working hard to offer the integrated services its communities need now, and in the future.