A Life Worth Living: Teenagers, The Family, and Health
Kuala Lumpar, Malaysia - 8 March 1997
A Seminar on Teenagers, Family and Health was held in Kuala Lumpur on 8 March 1997. It was jointly organised by the Pan Pacific and South-East Asian Women's Association (PPSEAWA) and National Population and Family Development Board (NPFDB) Malaysia as a follow-up to a similar workshop held in Western Samoa in 1996 as well as the PPSEAWA International Conference in Tonga in 1994 which called for such seminars to be convened in all member countries.
The Seminar on Teenagers, The Family and Health was organised to provide a forum for discussing and promoting public understanding of factors affecting family functining and issues pertaining to teenagers.
The seminar was well attended by 120 participants who were students, teachers, counsellors and peer leaders from local secondary schools and colleges, as well as trainees from training institutions, members of NGOs, parents and representatives from the media.
The seminar commenced with a Keynote Address by Dr. Raj bte Abdul Karim entitled Teenagers, Family and Health. This session provided the perspective for the seminar, beginning with information on the current demographic and social senario on the Malaysian family and teenagers. It went on to highlight the national plans and hopes of our leaders for social and economic development towards Vision 2020. The Address concluded with motivational hints to the teenagers on human values and guiding philosophies to hlep them in their journey towards excellence.
This was followed by the presentation of two working papers:
Paper I: Active Lifestyle for Teenagers by Mr Wasitah bte Mohd. Yusoff Assistant Director of Sports from the Ministry of Youth and Sports.
Paper II: Some Interesting Findings from Current Research on Teenagers and Lifestyles by Ms. Rohani bte Abdul Razak, Deputy Director, Population Research Centre of the National Population and Family Development Board (NPFDB).
The last session of youth presentations was based on personal experiences by three teenagers.
The topics presented were as follows:
I. Self-Discipline, Motivation & Academic Achievements by Ms. Rubaltl Afti bte Rusli a Form V student from the Seri Aman Secondary School, Petaling Jaya.
II. Community Services by Ms. Lau Yen Shuang a member of the Red Crescent Society of Selangor.
III. Extra Curricula Interests/Hobbies/Recreation by Mr. Zahid bin Rastam, a Grade II student from the International School of Kuala Lumpur.
The paper on Some Interesting Findings from Current Research on Teenagers and Lifestyles highlighted findings from the National Study on Reproductive Health of Adolescents in Malaysia initiated by the National Population and Family Development Board (NPFDB) in 1994.
Findings from this knowledge, attitude and practice study on adolescents covered the following areas:
- Changes During Puberty
- Source of Information on Health and Sexuality
- Pregnancy and Contraception
- Knowledge on STD and HIV/AIDS
- Deviant Social Behaviour
- Relationships with Parents and Teachers
- Aspirations of Teenagers
The paper on Healthy Lifestyle for Teenagers, extolled the benefits of a healthy and active lifestyle. Adolescents and young adults, both male and female, benefit from regular amounts of physical activity and a well-balanced diet.
She added that opportunities for enjoyable physical activities should be provided for teenagers that involve their peers, siblings and parents to strengthen family ties.
The session on Youth Presentations stressed on the importance of having self-discipline and motivation to obtain good academic achievements. It is essential to have self-control, good time management and a vision to achieve success. It is beneficial to join a uniformed organisation like the Red Crescent to learn First Aid, self-discipline, survival and the satisfaction of providing a service which is appreciated by the community. We need people who are willing to work for the community in NGOs and public services even though they get paid less. Don't fall into the trap of peer pressure especially when it's negative.
Recommendations of participants
I. The seminar generated some suggestions, ideas and recommendations which may provide guidelines for improving the health, family life, and social behavious of teenagers today. They include:
- Parents and elders in the family be made aware of their responsibility to teach, guide, and modify the behavious of their young people whenever necessary to ensure the passing on of good moral values and ethics in society.
- Human Sexuality Education rather than sex education per se be given in a structured and formal manner to all young people.
- Stringent measures be taken collectively by governmental and non-governmental agencies to curb social ills.
- Both Moral and Religious Education must be made available to all school children.
- The potential of peer counselling needs to be explored further as an effective way of communication with young people.
II. Programmes and Activities that should be promoted:
- Parenting Classes to increase awareness of parents especially fathers on their role and responsibility vis-a-vis teachers.
- More Family Life Education programmes which are needs-specific or market segmented.
- Courses, Workshop and Seminars that focus on physical, spiritual, social and intellectual development.
- More activities to be conducted under the Rakan Muda programme with more facilitators/leaders trained.
- Outward bound schools to enhance total fitness training.
- The Ministry of Education School should enforce compulsory enrollment in at least one uniformed organisation like the Scouts, Red Cross, Cadets, etc. for all school children.
- Sexuality and Reproductive Health Education which covers STD and HIV/AIDS as well as moral and spiritual values which should be related to human relationships.
- Provision of a range of extra-curricular programmes in schools and community recreation centres which meet the various needs and interests of adolescents.
Reported by Juliana Chua
Last Modified: June 05, 2010