TUESDAY, July 30 (HealthDay News) -- Keeping teens engaged in
school helps reduce their risk of behavior problems, substance use
and dropping out, according to a new study.
Specifically, it's important to provide teens with a supportive
learning environment that gives them opportunities to feel
competent and independent, and meets their emotional needs, the
University of Pittsburgh and Connecticut College researchers
The study authors noted that active engagement in high school
has been found to promote the skills and values that help teens
successfully move into adulthood. Actively engaged students are
those who participate in academic activities, feel connected to
their school, value their education and are motivated to learn.
However, research suggests that as students progress through
high school, they may tend to become disengaged. Some studies
estimate that 40 percent to 60 percent begin to show signs of
disengagement, such as losing interest in their education,
demonstrating a lack of effort or simply not paying attention.
This new study included about 1,300 students in grades 7 through
11 at 23 public schools in the eastern United States. Fifty-eight
percent were black, 36 percent were white and 6 percent were either
biracial or from other ethnic minorities.
Over seven years, the teens completed surveys on topics such as
behavior, school engagement, and relationships with teachers and
parents, according to the study appearing July 30 in the journal
"The findings support the idea that behavioral, emotional and
cognitive [mental] engagement are assets that help students cope
with the stressors, setbacks and difficulties they face in school,"
study leader Ming-Te Wang, an assistant professor of psychology in
education at the University of Pittsburgh, said in a journal news
"Youths who are engaged with school feel more academically
competent, are more connected to the institution, and elicit more
positive reactions from their teachers and parents. In contrast,
disengaged youths have more academic difficulties, receive less
positive support from teachers, and are more likely to associate
with disengaged peers," Wang said.
"The study also suggests that early behavioral and emotional
engagement in school can buffer against participation in problem
behavior," Wang added. "Educational interventions for students that
aim to improve school engagement may decrease delinquency and
substance use, and prevent adolescents from dropping out of high
The Nemours Foundation asked teens what makes a