Researchers Analyze Major Adolescent Health Study and Find that School and Family Ties Protect Teens from Risky Behaviors

Investigators at the University of Minnesota analyzed data and disseminated findings from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (called Add Health), the largest research study ever undertaken on adolescents in the United States.

Staff at Burness Communications in Bethesda, Md., under a subcontract, provided editorial assistance, prepared media kits for each release of findings and worked with the media to promote coverage.

Key Results

  • Investigators produced 13 peer-reviewed publications in national journals.

  • Investigators produced four reader-friendly monographs that distilled the research findings for policymakers, youth advocates, educators and parents.

  • Investigators made more than 100 presentations on their findings at local, state, national and international meetings.

Key Findings

The findings below come from the monographs:

  • Youths who have problems with schoolwork are more likely than others to experience or be involved with every health risk studied, including cigarette use, alcohol use, suicide risk, violence involving weapons and sexual intercourse. Protecting Teens: Beyond Race, Income and Family Structure.

  • Feeling connected to school protects adolescents against many health risks, including smoking, alcohol and drug use and early sexual initiation. Improving the Odds: The Untapped Power of Schools to Improve the Health of Teens.

  • When it comes to delaying the initiation of sexual intercourse, feeling close and connected to their mothers is important, especially for younger teens, males and females. Mothers' Influence on Teen Sex: Connections That Promote Postponing Sexual Intercourse.

  • The more protective factors that are present in a youth's life, the less likely a youth will be involved in serious violence. Protective factors include: caring and connectedness with adults, the quality of family dynamics, the consistency of supervision and monitoring and the expression of norms, values and expectations. Influencing Behavior: The Power of Protective Factors in Reducing Youth Violence.