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Addressing the Specific Health Care Needs of Female Adolescents

NCJ Number
Corrections Today Volume: 69 Issue: 5 Dated: October 2007 Pages: 42-45
Michelle Staples-Horne
Date Published
October 2007
4 pages
This article identifies the high-priority health needs of female juvenile offenders and suggests features of an effective health care program for this population.
Some of the most common health-related issues among female juvenile offenders in correctional settings include sexual transmitted infections (STIs), pregnancy, substance abuse, and mental health disorders; however, there are other acute and chronic medical conditions in this population as well, including obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and asthma. Health education programs that promote STI-protective behavior among female adolescents are feasible and beneficial in detention facilities. Sex education should be a component of an effective program. Gender-specific education programs should address anatomy and physiology, self-care, self-esteem, and healthy partner relationships. The management of pregnancy and its associated parenthood require attention to current needs (prenatal and postpartum care) and future needs; for example, avoidance of another pregnancy, contraceptive information, and parenting skills. Essential to addressing all health-care needs of female adolescent offenders is a health screening and examination. This is necessary in order to determine whether any current or past medical, mental, dental, or allergy conditions exist. General health-service and health-education programs should promote physical and mental wellness, good nutrition, exercise, reproductive health, disease prevention, stress management, smoking, and alcohol and drug use. In a juvenile facility, greater health-care expenses should be anticipated when providing health services to females, since they generally experience a higher use of medical care in the community.