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Best Recipe for Successful Adolescent Development

What is the best recipe for successful adolescent development? Virginia & Leonard Marx Professor of Child and Parent Development, Jeanne Brooks-Gunn Says that it is more than just good parenting. NIH Record reported on a Science for All session titled "Just Growing Pains? The Mental Health of Our Children." As the Panelist to speak on adolescence, Brooks-Gunn said that the best formula for successful adolescent development includes not only good parents but other caring adults as well, and the fostering of a safe environment. "We have done a terrible job in the provision of safety in this country," says Brooks-Gunn.

In addition to issues of safety, Brooks-Gunn also criticized the lack of developmental understanding in American education, particularly middle school which she calls "the biggest mistake ever in American education." Middle school is "the most difficult school transition kids face-it's associated with huge declines in self-esteem and huge increases in depression." The problem, Brooks-Gunn explains, is that "It puts kids in their transition years with older peers," where they are thus susceptible to influence, and bullying. "The old K-8 system was much better," she says. Ultimately, adolescents need to interact with adults and be fostered in a safe and caring environment.

The article, entitled "Panel Offers Primer on Rearing Happy Kids" appeared on the January 23rd edition of the National Institute of Health Web site.

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