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date: 17 July 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The population of children and adolescents encompasses a remarkable range of physiological, developmental, and experiential phenomena. Considered from a global perspective, differences may seem to overwhelm similarities. This chapter proposes and explains three distinct but interrelated characteristics that should frame ethical considerations of public health approaches to children and adolescents: (1) lack of political, economic, and social power; (2) status as subject to stewardship by adults; and (3) presumed lack of capacity for decision-making.The impact of these shared characteristics is examined using public health approaches to health information, health promotion and access to confidential services. Public health policies that anticipate the risks related to powerlessness and failures of stewardship, and seek to promote respect for developing capacity can help to create conditions in which children can thrive.

Keywords: adolescents, children, stewardship, capacity, public health, power, decision-making, public health ethics

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