© UNICEF oPt/2009/Halawani
Adolescents between the ages of 13 and 18 comprise around 11 per cent of the population. They are a particularly vulnerable group as they are frequently exposed to the frontline of conflict and violence. In 2008, 80 per cent of children killed in conflict were adolescents. Most children being held in Israeli detention facilities are between 15 and 17 years old.
There are limited recreational facilities and programmes for young people, and the ongoing violence triggers severe emotional duress and feelings of great insecurity. Adolescents report anxiety, poor performance in school and aggressive behaviour as their main symptoms of stress. The number of teens falling below their grade level and dropping out continues to rise.
Adolescents have little access to information, limiting their chances of learning critical life skills including communication, leadership and stress management. While nearly all adolescents said they had heard about HIV and AIDS, nine out of 10 could not name the three primary ways of preventing infection.
Prior to the recent crisis in Gaza, 62 per cent of youth in Gaza already said they felt insecure, along with half of their peers in the West Bank. Around half also said they felt discriminated against on the basis of politics, social class, gender, religion or geographical location.
UNICEF programmes aim to strengthen national capacity to increase adolescent participation, improve secondary school retention, reduce violence, and improve knowledge on healthy lifestyles.