Adolescent Health in Texas

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DSHS takes a universal look at adolescent health and well-being. Instead of tackling risky behaviors alone, Adolescent Health focuses on:

  • the overlap between risky behaviors,
  • the common causes,
  • the strengths that a youth has,
  • the adults who support youth, and,
  • successful activities.  

Partners include:

  • State agencies
  • families
  • schools
  • churches
  • communities
  • youth agencies  

Youth work should center on skills youth need to cope with stress and reduce the urge to take risks. We refer to these skills as protective factors.  Work should focus on strengths. The Positive Youth Development (PYD)model is key to health strategies for youth. PYD projects:

  • Develop relationships with caring adults,
  • Supportive interactions with parents,
  • Promote positive connections to school, and,
  • Have opportunities to experiment in healthy ways.  

Research from John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health shows that adolescents understand risk. The risk of any given action just fails to stop them because of the benefits they perceive.

June is National Safety Month



Young people are at high risk for injuries. The leading causes are:

  • Car crashes
  • Drowning
  • Poisoning
  • Fires
  • Falls

Good News! We can all help prevent injuries. Take simple safety steps.

Prevent injuries inside and outside the home.  

  • Swimming
    • Learn to swim.
    • Swim with a buddy.
    • Wear a life jacket when boating.
  • Medicine
    • Never share your medicine with someone else.
    • Never use someone else’s medicine.
    • Follow your doctor’s orders.
    • Read and follow medication directions.
    • Take only medicine your parents say is o.k.
    • Keep medicines and vitamins locked.
    • Keep only meds you need.  
    • Throw away unused medicine.
  • Fires    plugs
    • Install smoke alarms.
    • Stay in the kitchen while cooking.  
    • Keep clothing away from flames. Avoid wearing loose fitting clothes while cooking. The clothes may touch a burner and catch on fire.
    • Take caution, don’t overload electrical outlets by with too many appliances.
    • Know what to do and where to go if there is a fire.
    • Extinguish candles when you leave a room.
    • Use fireworks with adult supervision.
    • Light fireworks outside

  • Falls
    • Wear a helmet while riding a bike or skateboarding.
    • Stay aware or your surroundings around dangerous areas.
    • Follow sports safety rules.
    • Take time to recover if you have a concussion and report it.

  Parents and Professionals - Be a good role model. Talk about safety measures with young people.







Additional resources for National Safety Month (  

Keeping teens safe is everyone’s responsibility.

While adolescents are generally healthy, substance abuse and other risky behaviors can be common problems. These health issues can have long-term effects.  

MCH believes that youth and family input is vital to program success in the community. MCH supports state-level projects to promote youth leadership and youth voice.  

The Texas Healthy Adolescent Initiative (THAI) is an example of this. THAI increases youth protective factors. THAI helps youth establish a strong base for adult life. It supports positive life choices. THAI supports Youth-Adult Partnerships. Communities can also use PYD and youth involvement to address community-identified risk factors.  

The Title V Needs Assessment showed the need to improve adolescent well visits too. We work with clinics to:

  • improve the adolescent-friendliness of the clinic,
  • increase the number of youth getting services, and,
  • make the most of health visits to look for potential health issues.

MCH believes that youth sexual violence is a public health problem. According a Center for Disease Control and Prevention Survey, 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men suffered rape in their lifetime. One in 2 women and 1 in 5 men were victims of sexual violence other than rape at some point in their lives. A 2015 study conducted by UT (found here) had similar results in Texas.  

We are working to engage youth and unite communities around sexual assault. The main purpose is to prevent sexual violence by using prevention strategies. Examples of how local organizations are doing this include:

  • education for youth,
  • training for parents and other caring adults,
  • training for professionals connected to youth,
  • programs for students, and,
  • training campus personnel.

Education and training can reduce sexual assault on school campuses. Prevention uses activities to address the goals identified in Preventing Sexual Violence in Texas, A Primary Prevention Approach, 2010-2018. In 2016, Texas updated the State Plan. The amendment can be found here.

Department of State Health Services
State Adolescent Health Coordinator
Maternal and Child Health
PO Box 149347, MC 1922
Austin, TX 78714-9347

Telephone 512-776-7373
Fax 512-776-7658 

Last updated June 4, 2018