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Last Updated: Monday, 26 April, 2004, 11:50 GMT 12:50 UK
Advert targets 'isolated' parents
Parents can be confronted by "an angry stranger"
A major television campaign has been launched to encourage parents to keep communicating with their teenagers.

NHS Health Scotland said the campaign was the first of its kind in the UK.

It follows Joseph Rowntree Foundation research which said open dialogue with children could help prevent depression, suicide attempts and teenage pregnancy.

The adverts will try to show parents - who may feel isolated and undervalued - that they can make a difference by "being there" for their teenagers.

The study by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation found that teenagers who received praise and acceptance from parents, and retain an open dialogue with them, had more confidence and self esteem.

Extensive research

Low self-esteem is one of several risk factors for teenage pregnancy, depression, eating disorders and suicide attempts - as well as low earnings and unemployment for young males.

Martin Raymond, head of public affairs for Health Scotland, said the advert was based on extensive research with families across Scotland.

"Parents of teenagers felt particularly isolated and undervalued," he said.

"They told us that they thought their efforts were not recognised and that while parents of younger children had the support of the 'school gate culture' they had lost that contact with other parents.

Parents still have influence over teenagers, surveys have found
"They also had the impression that their efforts with their teenagers didn't seem to have any impact.

"But the research shows that parents can influence their teenagers - not by lecturing, but by being there for them.

"The message is clearly that you are not alone and that you can make a difference."

The campaign aims to build on previous Health Scotland efforts to support parents of younger children.

Chairwoman Lesley Hinds said the organisation would continue to focus on teenagers' physical health.

"But we also want to build up teenagers' resilience," she said.

'Emotional challenges'

"The factors that contribute to resilience are good parent-child relationships, social skills and friendship networks.

"Parents have a key role in helping teenagers through the emotional challenges of adolescence.

"As a parent of teenagers myself, I know how you can suddenly find yourself confronted by an angry stranger instead of the child you once knew.

"But it's worth hanging in there. And you're not alone - most parents of teenagers face the same confusion."

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