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UN Commission on Population Development: Young people have become more risky
The 45th session of the UN Commission on Population Development draws a bitter conclusion: The approximately 1.8 billion children, adolescents and young adults between the ages of 10 and 24 around the world are today exposed to significantly more harmful influences such as drugs, alcohol, stress and venereal diseases than never before. The result is completely contrary to the better health care for adolescents in the western industrialized nations. Health care for children has improved significantly in all areas, but the forecasts look rather bleak.
Fattening foods, alcohol, stress, nicotine, poverty and violence: Young people are now more affected by negative influences than all generations before. Although health care has improved enormously in many areas in recent decades, organic and mental illnesses will increase massively. This is the result of a current study by the UN Commission on Population Development. In April 2012, the scientific journal "The Lancet" published a four-part series of articles entitled "The young people of today", which deals with the future health of people who are still young today. If the adult world does not take young people's problems seriously, sustainable social development cannot work, the experts warn.
Young people are less important in research
The spokesman for Unicef Germany, Rudi Tarneden, explained why youth generations have so far been less important in research and medicine. "In the past years it was about the absolute basics like drinking water, vaccination protection and school education. Such comparatively simple measures have reduced child mortality by 35 percent since 1990." However, the problems of adolescents are less easy to deal with than those of children. This applies to Germany as well as the Third World. Leading a life full of risks and damaging one's own health is a result of poverty, exclusion and a lack of educational work. "Such problems cannot simply be vaccinated away," says Tarneden.
STDs continue to advance
According to the UNICEF representative, there is a high need for education, especially in the area of sexuality. The immunodeficiency disease AIDS is still on the rise due to the continued spread of the HI virus in numerous countries. In addition, no less dangerous venereal diseases are transmitted, with unforeseeable consequences for those affected. In contrast to AIDS, other venereal diseases are less known among young people. Because in addition to the spread of HIV, more and more adolescents are infected with viruses of the gonococcal, treponemic and chlamydial genus. The former causes the disease "gonorrhea" and the second "syphilis". In many schools, AIDS is now a part of the curriculum, but little is taught about other diseases mentioned. The subject of sex is still only of secondary importance in the classroom. Even though sex has become an easily accessible commodity through the Internet.
Hardly any filtered information for children through the Internet
"Young people are growing up with the Internet as a matter of course," reports social worker Gritli Bertram. The fatal thing is that the flood of information is no longer filtered. Many children today know faster than their parents where and what can be found on which website. Young people from back then, at “Doktor Sommer” in Bravo, found out about sexuality and the first problems in puberty, “today all taboos have fallen through the Internet,” says the teacher. With a few clicks you can find everything very easily, "whether pornographic websites or scenes of violence, everything is available unfiltered". A long-standing discussion has started among scientists about the extent to which the Internet influences young people's sexual behavior. "Many kids think that sex on the Internet is a representation of the real world and imitate it, to the girls' dismay," says Bertram. But accurate scientific research on this can only be done in a few years. However, everything points to the fact that at least moral ideas change permanently. The consequences of this are not yet foreseeable.
Permanent sound from the corporations
A consequence of the continuous media exposure can already be observed. Corporations reach young people around the world around the clock through the Internet. The industry has been able to massively increase its sales in recent years. This is especially true for tobacco manufacturers, such as Prof. Dr. Kurt Ullrich from the Department of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine at the University Hospital Hamburg reports. Although smoking continues to decline in the rich countries, "sales of cigarettes are increasing," reports the doctor. "It can only mean that the market is growing in the second and third world countries."
The cigarette manufacturers threw their marketing concept back then to reach young people more effectively despite successful anti-smoking campaigns. Instead of the lonely cowboy on horseback, not only “tough men” should be addressed through targeted advertising campaigns, but increasingly young women. On posters there are young, attractive women who tell the viewer "Maybe will never be her own boss." (No maybe, but a clear "yes") afterwards. The advertising obviously does not fail to have an effect. According to the latest statistics, more and more women smoke, even though fewer and fewer people in the industrialized countries are glowing sticks. As a result, the death rate from tobacco-related cancer cases increases, as the Federal Institute for Statistics recently announced.
Obesity is a growing problem around the world
The food industry is also inventing more and more designed foods that tempt unrestrained consumption. Here too, the focus of the corporations is on young people. It is no longer a secret that more and more people suffer from obesity at an early age. Health politicians are now reacting and launching numerous campaigns to counter the overweight in girls and boys. But the trend can hardly be stopped, Ulrich warns. Most nutritional programs are not very effective, the pediatrician says. Most children are not helped with recommendations for a healthy diet, especially if the unhealthy lifestyle in the parental household is continued and socialized. For this reason, programs that also involve parents in the long term are fundamentally more sensible and have shown the best long-term success. The expert gives a simple but effective tip: "Simply watch less TV". In the long run, the reduction in television consumption leads to "weight loss similar to a strict diet."
Too much fatty food, hardly any exercise and high media consumption, the problems have spilled over from the affluent countries to formerly poor countries. "In emerging countries, there are now both: problems of the First and Third World." In countries like South Africa, China or India, the poor and the rich live side by side. Some suffer from acute underweight and others from obesity. The problem is hardly understood in the so-called "emerging countries". Therefore, there are hardly any programs for healthy eating and very few social safety nets, for example to alleviate depressive episodes.
Adolescents suffer more and more from mental illnesses
According to UNICEF, mental health problems among children and adolescents have risen sharply. According to the experts, around 20 percent of young people suffer from depression or depressive phases during puberty. Pressure to perform, steadily increasing demands on the part of school and parents, stress, but also poverty and violence are causing more and more children to fall into real sadness. While there are numerous therapeutic options in the first world, children in the third world are helplessly at the mercy. Therefore, they are particularly at risk of experiencing manifested depression. A look at the statistics reveals that the suicide rates are highest in the Eastern European countries. The sad suicide ranking is led by countries like Russia, Lithuania, Latvia or Kazakhstan.
"Not every depression that is not treated therapeutically automatically leads to suicide," reports the educator. But those affected often take refuge in addiction, regularly consume drugs such as alcohol, cannabis or cigarettes. "The traumatic experiences of violent experiences often accompany children for a lifetime". In many cases it is unlikely that children who are mentally ill from childhood will become healthy and cheerful adults. Not to mention that the sometimes seriously ill children can “make a full contribution to society later”. However, it is already evident that the economic and financial crisis will continue to increase, that environmental pollution and climate change are causing mischief and that mankind is facing massive problems. Given the numbers, Tarneden demands more care for the adolescents of this world, because today the largest generation of young people of all time is growing up. If they are left alone with their problems, "sustainable development of society will always be undermined." (Sb)
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