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HEALTH BEHAVIOUR IN SCHOOL-AGED CHILDREN

WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION COLLABORATIVE CROSS-NATIONAL SURVEY

 

Publications: Data Visualisations

Perceived peer support

Childhood and adolescence are crucial periods in the life course which fundamentally influence all developmental aspects of life. During these important periods, thousands of hours are spent at school and with classmates.

The level of perceived support from classmates is linked to school satisfaction and motivation, school-related stress and bullying. A low level of support is related to health complaints such as headaches, abdominal pain, depressed mood, and higher prevalences for smoking and drinking. High levels of support are associated with improved life satisfaction, increased self-efficacy and higher levels of physical activity.

A supportive school environment may be considered a resource for the development of health, life satisfaction and health enhancing behaviours; while a non-supportive school environment constitutes a risk.

Policy recommendations

Schools should strive to create supportive classrooms in which all students feel integrated, by adopting teaching methods that promote cooperative learning and through establishing positive behavioural norms with school- and class-level practices.

At school level, implementation of the concept of the health-promoting school, which not only addresses lifestyle factors such as dieting and physical activity but also social factors, has shown promise in:

  • creating a positive school climate

  • developing and maintaining a democratic and participatory school community

  • implementing a diversity of learning and teaching strategies to better promote student engagement and interactions

In the classroom, teachers must be adequately prepared and motivated to meet students’ needs through sensitive and responsive pedagogical interactions.

Educators should:

  • establish a caring atmosphere that promotes autonomy

  • provide positive feedback

  • not publicly humiliate students who perform poorly

  • identify and promote young people’s special interests and skills to acknowledge that schools value the diversity they bring

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