Keeping teens engaged in school helps reduce their risk of behavior problems, substance use and dropping out, according to a new study.

Specifically, it's important to provide teens with a supportive learning environment that gives them opportunities to feel competent and independent, and meets their emotional needs, the University of Pittsburgh and Connecticut College researchers said.

The study authors noted that active engagement in high school has been found to promote the skills and values that help teens successfully move into adulthood. Actively engaged students are those who participate in academic activities, feel connected to their school, value their education and are motivated to learn.

However, research suggests that as students progress through high school, they may tend to become disengaged. Some studies estimate that 40 percent to 60 percent begin to show signs of disengagement, such as losing interest in their education, demonstrating a lack of effort or simply not paying attention.

According to the study's lead researcher, Ming-Te Wang, an assistant professor of psychology in education at the University of Pittsburgh, "Youths who are engaged with school feel more academically competent, are more connected to the institution, and elicit more positive reactions from their teachers and parents. In contrast, disengaged youths have more academic difficulties, receive less positive support from teachers, and are more likely to associate with disengaged peers."

"The study also suggests that early behavioral and emotional engagement in school can buffer against participation in problem behavior," Wang added.

Source: U.S. News & World Report
http://health.usnews.com/health-news/news/articles/2013/07/30/engaged-teens-more-likely-to-stay-in-school-study-shows