Adolescents in New Zealand relative to those in other developed countries have a high rate of social morbidity.
While most adolescents are resilient to the complexities of the social milieu in which they live, at least 20% of young New Zealanders will exhibit behaviours and emotions or have experiences that lead to long-term consequences affecting the rest of their lives.
An extensive and unbiased review of the relevant scientific literature has been undertaken by a multidisciplinary panel of experts. The key points are summarised in this introductory Synthesis Report, and the main part of the report contains the detailed and domain-specific reviews.
One dominant message comes through – that application of the international and domestic evidence base to policy formation and programme development in this area will lead to better outcomes for our young people. However, to do so will require a prolonged effort over several electoral cycles and cannot be held hostage to adversarial politics. Our research suggests that many programmes have been introduced, albeit with good intent, that are unlikely to succeed as they are not supported by the evidence base, whereas other approaches likely to be effective have not been implemented.
A key challenge is to ensure that all programmes are appropriately monitored to ensure that they are effective and cost effective within the New Zealand context, allowing better use of scarce public resources to support our young people.