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Risk

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The following study discusses the risk & resilient factors in the life of Pauline, a 16 year old NZ European/Maori teenager.

These factors involve her family life and its importance to her: the value of education and the consequences of leaving school without qualifications; how activities such as church participation can be helpful and the problems involved with having nothing to do; the effects of substance abuse; early sexual involvement and its risks; the risk of suicide, suicide attempts & ideation. The likely impacts of all of these factors on her current & future health status will be considered. Key words or concepts: resilience or protective factors: is factors that buffer young people from risks & promote positive youth development. Risk behaviours: dangerous behaviour that involves a threat to health & well being adolescence: the developmental period between childhood and adulthood mentor: someone whom the young person can trust connectedness: feeling cared for, close to and enjoying either family, school or an adult mentor. The study will follow the format using the HEADSS framework. This was devised in 1972 by Eric Cohen, a Specialist in adolescent medicine in Los Angeles. It is a method used to interview & assess young people & is an acronym for the following; - (H) home environment (E) education & employment (A) activities & interests (D) drugs (S) sexuality (S) suicide

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Home

Pauline has a number of risk and protective factors happening for her in her home situation. Until the age of three years she was the focus of her own two parents. At the age of sixteen she is positioned between her Father's new family of a partner & three very young children (who Pauline lives with) and her Mother, partner and their two young children. She has expressed dissatisfaction regarding her irregular contact with her Mother who lives in another town. Early attachment in childhood sets the stage for acting out behaviours in adolescence (Brennan 1993). Pauline clearly felt nobody cared for her, that her Father was more interested in her stepmother and children, she felt this so strongly it led her to running away from home. She was at risk as she became involved with criminal activity & subsequently Youth Justice. The measure would have been the attachment she experienced as a small child. Pauline expresses that there is a lot of arguing with her Dad & Stepmother. This provides risk for her as serious conflict between caregivers and children can put them at the risk of the problem behaviours (Channing Bete Company 2004). The separation of a child's parents can put him/her at risk especially if there are a lot of changes or that the child does not have a good relationship with at least one parent (Burt 2002). It has been indicated in a study that girls in two parent families are less likely to act out risky behaviours than those in single parent families. (M.D. Resnick et al 1993). Children or adolescents who are well reasonably well adjusted after divorce nearly always come from an environment where there is a firm, responsive, nurturing, supportive adult (Henderson 2002). Pauline's recent history is shows this sort of environment has not been there for her. A factor that protects an adolescent is having an adult in her life she can trust and with whom she can confide. The presence of an adult Mentor in an adolescents life helps reduce the participation in risk taking behaviours. (Beier et al 2000). Pauline reports having a close relationship with her Aunty Sarah who lives down the road with her Nan. She is able to confide with Aunty Sarah and feels close to her. This is a significant protective factor for Pauline.

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Having parents of different ethnic origins can be a source of conflict for a young person. Pauline's Mother is pakeha and her Father is Maori. It is an important foundation for Maori to acknowledge their whanau as this is where much of their identity & support comes from. (Adolescent Health Group Research Group 2003). One of the contributing risks to health is reduced whanau support (M.Durie 2001). Pauline is aware of her iwi links and does see her extended family at times. This factor will act in her best interests The government is recognising that Maori identity and access to cultural ,social & physical resources is a health issue that they set down a strong foundation for health and legislation has been passed to assist in the respect for people's needs in these areas (M. Durie 2001). Pauline's home life has been impacting significantly on her health & causing her to enter into risk taking behaviours, but protective factors such as her extended family contacts are having a positive influence.

Education/ Employment

It can be assumed that Pauline left secondary school at the age of fifteen or even younger. However Pauline is attending an Alternative Education School which she says she quite likes & attends regularly. These schools are for students who have had behavioural problems such as repeated expulsions, pregnancy, child care responsibilities and who are not allowed to attend regular secondary schools. The young people who attend New Zealand Alternative Education schools have significantly more health issues than those at main stream schools (S. Denny et al 2004).

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