The need for parent child communication – achieving children’s wellbeing in Bihar

The need for parent communication

In India there are typical barriers to parent-child communication, especially in matters of sexual health topics. There is a feeling of embarrassment (both among the parents and adolescents) in discussing sexual matters; belief that discussing sexual topics before marriage is inappropriate; lack of appropriate knowledge among the parents themselves on how to communicate with adolescents on sexual health or related health concerns, including cardiovascular diseases[1,2]

There is evidence that children and adolescents in India feel the need for direct and consistent communication with their parents on matters of sensitive topics, even though there are other sources of information (TV, textbooks, teachers and peers)[3].  

Evidence that parent communication shapes behaviours in childhood and adolescence

Preventive interventions, especially family focused interventions are regarded as highly effective in addressing early onset of good behaviours, mitigating substance-misuse, poor sexual and reproductive health and development and growth challenges among adolescents.[4,5]  Prevention interventions are also extremely relevant in the context of growing poor health and development outcomes for children and adolescents in India. Prevention interventions that focus on curbing adolescent problem behaviours may prove effective in reducing the burden of morbidities in adolescence and adulthood.

There are three main types of preventive interventions: universal, indicative and selective[6]. The application of universal preventive interventions is across a population irrespective of risk; indicative preventive interventions are applied to individuals who are already showing symptoms of a disorder and selective preventive interventions are applied to groups with raised risk for poor outcomes—e.g., low-income families. Much of these concerns are mitigated through education and extended number of years spent in schools.

Investing in education and retention in schools is the best remedy for achieving healthy behaviours

Evidence indicates that parents’ ignorance is one of the barriers to health and well-being of the children.[7] There is a burning need for investment in education of children (early learning stage and late learning stage) on issues of health and well-being along with formal education. Bihar is one of the states with a high representation of adolescents in the country[8] and therefore, the need for parent child communication is more pronounced. Strengthening the culture of education and integrating parent engagement will support achieving the well-being of children in the long run in the state.

[1] Early Childhood Investments Substantially Boost Adult Health, Frances Campbell et al. Science 343, 1478 (2014)

[2] Guilamo-Ramos, V., Soletti, A. B., Burnette, D., Sharma, S., Leavitt, S., & McCarthy, K. (2012). Parent–Adolescent Communication About Sex in Rural India

[3] ibid

[4] Universal intervention effects on substance use among young adults mediated by delayed adolescent substance initiation; Journal of consulting and clinical psychology; 2009

[5] Worldwide application of prevention science in adolescent health, The Lancet2012

[6] The Lancet

[7] Sivagurunathan, C., Umadevi, R., Rama, R., & Gopalakrishnan, S. (2015). Adolescent health: present status and its related programmes in India. Are we in the right direction? Journal of clinical and diagnostic research : JCDR9(3), LE01–LE6.

[8] ibid

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