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May 1991

Youth Alienation as an Emerging Pediatric Health Care Issue

Author Affiliations

Division of Adolescent Medicine University of Washington WJ-10 Seattle, WA 98105

Am J Dis Child. 1991;145(5):491-492. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1991.02160050015002

Many young people have withdrawn or are separated from the values of their society or family. These are our alienated youth. The number of adolescents without a defined role in modern society is growing.1 The inability of children to find a meaningful and productive place in American society both contributes to and stems from the "new morbidities of youth," including early sexual activity, drug abuse, school failure, family violence, and the like. A dearth of descriptive information exists on this growing population of alienated adolescents, which includes runaways, teenaged prostitutes, street youth, school dropouts, and delinquents, to name but a few.2 The problem of alienation during adolescence, which began to be of major sociological concern in the 1960s, today constitutes an emergent area of study for health care professionals.

These young people, because of forced or adopted destructive lifestyles, are exposed more than most youth to both physical and