Adolescence is a transitional period between the childhood and adulthood, it is a period of physical, biological and mental change. As knowledge has accumulated about human development during puberty and beyond, and about the development of the brain in particular, it has become clear that the notion of adolescence as a stage of sexual maturation is far too simple. Many interlinks changes and processes influence adolescent behavior, as well as the way young adults think and make decisions. Understanding these changes and their dynamic extension into early adult life which offers not only an opportunity for new approach to minimizing risks to health and wellbeing but also a moment to engage adolescents for their future adult life and even for the future generations.
There are about 1.2 billion adolescents aged 10-19 years in the world today, 89% of whom live in developing countries. Adolescence is a crucial life stage during which individuals must have the opportunity to develop the capabilities required for realizing their full potential and achieving a prosperous, healthy life.
Transitions from adolescence to adulthood require investments in health information, services provided and tailored to adolescent needs, quality education, vocational training, and healthy lifestyle which needs to be done at every level of stakeholders: the adolescent, the parents, community and the governments. Especially for the adolescent girls, it is important to put in place targeted interventions to address issues that prevent the realization of their full potential; for example child marriage, violence and abuse, teenage pregnancy, abortion and so on.
To work effectively for and with the adolescents, it is essential that we engage with stakeholders across the health, education, governance and others ensuring that the marginalized have access to the opportunity. Adolescents can be a key driving force in building a future of dignity for all if we start today.
Credit: Temidayo Adewumi
Institute of Child Health, University of Ibadan, Nigeria