Adolescents and Young people
Adolescence is defined as the period of life spanning between the ages 10-19. It offers huge opportunities, potential and creativity, but also requires attention due to increased risks and vulnerabilities for adolescent boys and girls
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All Adolescents Have All Rights
UNICEF adopts a life course, holistic and positive development approach to every child and adolescent girl and boy, and encourages investment across the two decades of the child’s life to build a continuum of support and care.
Adolescence is characterised by rapid brain development, deep physical, biological, emotional and cognitive transformations. Research shows that it represents a dynamic period of brain development, second only to early childhood in the extent and significance of the occurring changes. Key milestones are the onset of puberty, development of sexuality, newly emerging abilities, strengths and skills, increased independence, enhanced peer influence and increased risk taking and experimenting. As they move through their second decade, children begin to explore and forge their own individual and community identities on the basis of a complex interaction with their own family and cultural identity.
Adolescence is the years in which young people establish the social, cultural, educational, emotional and economic resources to maintain their wellbeing and health across the life course. Interventions made at this stage can lay or reinforce the foundations for a fulfilling and healthy adult life. In the case of adolescents who faced severe deprivations or rights violations during their early childhood, adolescence provides a second chance for them to acquire crucial knowledge, skills and competencies they need to thrive.
When adolescent girls and boys, including the most disadvantaged are supported and encouraged by caring and nurturing adults, and good policies and services attentive and responsive to their need and capacities, they are able to develop their full potential and break cycle of poverty, discrimination and violence.
What UNICEF does to support the adolescents
In Bulgaria, UNICEF works in partnership with children and young people and its partner organizations to support every adolescent boy and girl to realize their rights, to develop their full potential and contribute to their own wellbeing as well as to the development of their communities. The activities aim at:
Changing stereotypes associated with adolescence: enhancing public awareness and understanding of the opportunities afforded by adolescence and of key concepts in adolescent development and wellbeing in connection to the General comment № 20 (2016) on the implementation of the rights of the children during adolescence.
Creating enabling environment and supporting policies and programs that are responsive to the needs of adolescents, respect their evolving capacities and provide space for meaningful and effective participation of adolescents in policy development and implementation.
Promoting and encouraging implementation of a more holistic and strengths-based approach that builds on the strengths and resilience of adolescents reflecting their capacities rather than focusing mainly on the risks and problems.
Ensuring equal opportunities, protection and support for marginalized adolescent girls and boys.
Supporting parents of adolescents and specialists working with and for adolescents to enhance their understanding and knowledge of various and specific needs of adolescents and of their evolving and developing capacities.
Why are these efforts needed?
• 630 990 adolescent girls and boys aged 10-19 live in Bulgaria in 2016. Nearly half of them or 47,3% are at risk of poverty or social exclusion.
• 6090 children are born to mothers under 19 years in 2016.
• 41,5% of 15- year-olds students do not meet the basic level of reading literacy and are functionally illiterate in reading. 42% of 15-year-olds do not meet the basic level of literacy in mathematics.
• 26 650 adolescents 15-18 years old are neither in education, employment or training (nearly 11% of children at that age).
• 3199 boys and 613 girls aged 14-18 are in conflict with the law in 2016.
• About 1700 children aged 8-17 become victims of crime every year.
See the programme in action
Age matters - results from the regional survey among adolescents - Summary
Health behavior in school aged children 2013-2014 Study
Convention on the rights of the child – General comment No (2016) on implementation of the rights of the children during adolescence
Assessment of the status and analysis of the profile of adolescents and young people not in employment, education or training (NEETs) - Summary