Moving towards health promoting schools : spiritual well-being and lifestyle choices in adolescents
Karstens, Anne Christiane
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Increasingly adolescents are making unhealthy choices concerning their lifestyle. Behaviour patterns develop which are often carried into adulthood and become an established lifestyle pattern. Examples of these are the abuse of drugs, smoking, alcohol, irresponsible and hazardous sexual behaviour and so forth. It is also reported that young people increasingly contemplate and attempt suicide. It is important to find the reasons for such behaviours. During the last century, spirituality was not regarded as being important in the everyday lives of people. There are however many voices today calling for a reintegration of spirituality into education, health and various other areas of life. The movement of Health Promoting Schools could serve as a basis for reintegrating spirituality into the curriculum. Spirituality can be described as providing primarily meaning, relationship with God and people, a feeling of transcendence and the acquisition of values. These facets of life, neglected and considered unscientific in the positivistic modem era, are now seen as necessary within our post-modem society. The aim of this study was to investigate a possible correlation between the lifestyle choices adolescents make and their spiritual well-being. Both quantitative and qualitative measures were used to investigate the above mentioned correlation. Quantitative results indicated a significant positive correlation between measures of spiritual well-being and risk behaviours. The qualitative analysis indicated that adolescents believe that spiritual values are important when considering meaning in life as well as lifestyle choices. It was concluded that the construct spirituality remains salient in the lives of most adolescents. A possible rationale for integrating spirituality into the practice of Health Promoting Schools was proposed.
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