Meaning of Adolescence and Problems Adolescent
The challenges of adolescents and the responsibilities of public health personnel are onerous in nature for obvious reasons. In Nigeria, for instance, health care for this age group tends not to be receiving priority attention, such that many adolescents grope in the dark about matters concerning their health and survival. They even transfer this gross ignorance into adulthood. Yet, literature attests that 43 percent of the Nigerian population comprises people of this a get group (Bamgbose, 2002).
Thus, humanity continues to churn out a teaming population of ignorant parents into society. It is, therefore, logical, timely, and appropriate that Nigerian School Health Association considers it fit to discuss the lots of adolescents in our community. This paper shall examine adolescence as a concept, and. as a period of storm and stress. It shall also provide sensitization on the responsibilities of adult members of society to make adolescents grow up into fulfilled adulthood through the instrumentality of the public health nurse.
Concept of Adolescence
The term “adolescence” is a sociological construct, like other developmental phases in human growth and development, but unlike others, it breeds a lot of ambiguity. However, some experts view the term as a construct applied by adult members of society to describe the person who is in the transition to acquire biological features peculiar to the adult population group. The term is derived from the Latin word meaning to grow up’ or ‘to grow into maturity’.
It is the period of life between childhood and adulthood and corresponds roughly to the teenage years (thirteen to eighteen years). In essence, the meaning of adolescence, and the ages at which it begins and ends, differs from culture to culture, like most sociological phenomena (Kimmel & Weiner, 1985) in some situations, the term is used interchangeably with youth even though they are significantly different. Adolescence like youth is a unique period of joy, vigour, opportunities as well as challenges as the individual begins to appreciate more vividly phenomena in his or her environment in a more personal manner (Ikorok, 2004).
Managing these challenges may require the attention of public health workers like health educators, clinical psychologists, medical doctors, and particularly public health nurses; because by training and certification, they have the competencies in both public health nursing, counseling, and social works
Problems and Concerns of Adolescents
- Profuse Perspiration and Body Odour
Adolescents sweat very profusely, especially around the folds of the body. Without proper personal hygiene, the person develops a repulsive or repugnant body odour, and so should be guided on this. In their excessive physical activities, some may become sloppy and do not wash their clothes and the combined effects of dirt and sweat definitely result in bad odour. Therefore, health education and guidance are given on personal hygiene to help adolescents develop the habit of clean and regular baths and the use of clean and proper clothing
- Voracious Eating
Adolescents have a high need for nourishment, sometimes they eat rather selfishly and they may eat even share of another person. Many become overweight while others, particularly girls obsessively trim their weight to be a pencil slim and simple. Many adolescents become obese and develop a very clumsy appearance because of indiscipline in matters of feeding (Fawole, 2002).
- Skin Blemishes
Nature provides nurture and lubrication for the body more abundantly at this time Sometimes the sebaceous glands malfunction and acne occurs. This usually is a cause of anxiety for most adolescents, and they try even unproven therapies to their own disappointment because the problem resolves with age despite the use of cosmetics. It is sad, however, that cosmetic dealers spread false hope of an instant cure for acne when they know that this problem is hormonal and physiological, for that matter. Due to their misleading information and their promise of total restoration of looks, so many adolescents apply steroids rather too early in life on continuous bases as creams; and a sensitive health authority should view this very seriously.
- Awkward and Clumsy Posture
During the period of adolescence, the limps grow so fast that the adolescents look like all legs and arms; it takes a while for coordination to develop. The person becomes clumsy, prone to accidents, gets out of shape, and appears really awkward in posture. Bone deformities, like knocked knees, are common and they may develop negative self-concept. The girls develop bad posture in an attempt to conceal the developing breast, in this way they develop poor self-worth and may lack self-confidence and sometimes wish that they rather had the physique of another person they probably admire.
- Increased sexual activity
It is obvious that as sexual maturity arrives, sex urges naturally increase. The adolescents require help to realize that they is experiencing normal feelings and urges. For this reason, however, the educational curriculum in Nigeria includes sex education as an integral learning experience for the youth. Regrettably, the current trends in sex education tend to be amorous due to misplaced emphasis on safe sex.
Propagators of safe sex tend to devote so much attempt ion to the distribution of condoms than teach adolescents the implications of premarital sexual activities. This increased sex urge if not properly managed is a crisis itself. Some adolescents probably also, due to peer pressure, get entrapped in premarital sex, recreational sex, aggressive sex, teenage pregnancy, abortion, child abandonment, elopement, and other antisocial behaviour. What follows this can best be imagined.
- Ethnocentrism and self-consciousness
At this period the individual becomes so preoccupied with self to the extent of overindulgence. Adolescents consider themselves the center of all attention and often believe that everyone notices every detail of their appearance and would want to correct parts of their bodies to become their ‘real selves. Thus, they preoccupy themselves with their looks.
Sometimes they withdraw from others and keep only to themselves. Some erroneously think that they alone matter and every other thing should be stopped at their command. It is necessary to watch them, otherwise, they may conceive crimes or take pleasure in drugs or join gangsters or unnecessary risks as they fantasize. In the view of Grinder (1978), this stage of self-consciousness and fragmented existence is usually accompanied by a feeling of isolation and loneliness. The behaviour of adolescents at this time; encompasses inconsistency, unpredictability, and fantasy. Consequently, they automatically fight their impulses, accept them and become more idealistic and may even attempt very risky behavior
Like the period of adolescence itself, any discussion concerning adolescents is an adventure. For such a reason, this paper cannot attempt to exhaustively treat such a matter. However, it is important to remark that the management of any developmental process is contextual, even though the basic principles may synchronize with already existing evidence in the field. Therefore, public health personnel; nurses and others need to exploit the rich background of their training to make life worthwhile for all population groups in society.
Bamgbose, O. (2002). Revitalizing the Nigerian adolescent: A consideration of rights and attendant responsibilities. In I. A. Nwazuoke, Y. Bamgbose, & O. A. Moronkola (Eds.), Contemporary issues and researches on adolescents (pp. 15—35 ) Ibadan: Royal People Nigeria Ltd.
Cowley, S. (2003). Public health practice in nursing and health visiting. In S. Cowley (Ed.), public health policy and practice: A sourcebook for health visitors and community nurses (pp. 11 – 25). London: Bailliere Tindall
Fawole, J. O. (2002). The health problems of indiscipline. A Lead Paper Presented at the 3rd National Conference of the Nigerian School Health Association, NSHA-EZ, Held at the University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, 9th – 12th October 2002