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The study of adolescent development often involves interdisciplinary collaborations. For example, researchers in neuroscience or bio-behavioral health might focus on pubertal changes in brain structure and its effects on cognition or social relations. Sociologists interested in adolescence might focus on the acquisition of social roles e. Puberty is a period of several years in which rapid physical growth and psychological changes occur, culminating in sexual maturity.

The average age of onset of puberty is at 11 for girls and 12 for boys. Some of the most significant parts of pubertal development involve distinctive physiological changes in individuals' height, weight, body composition, and circulatory and respiratory systems. Hormones play an organizational role, priming the body to behave in a certain way once puberty begins, [23] and an active role, referring to changes in hormones during adolescence that trigger behavioral and physical changes. Puberty occurs through a long process and begins with a surge in hormone production, which in turn causes a number of physical changes.

It is the stage of life characterized by the appearance and development of secondary sex characteristics for example, a deeper voice and larger adam's apple in boys, and development of breasts and more curved and prominent hips in girls and a strong shift in hormonal balance towards an adult state. This is triggered by the pituitary gland , which secretes a surge of hormonal agents into the blood stream, initiating a chain reaction to occur.

The male and female gonads are subsequently activated, which puts them into a state of rapid growth and development; the triggered gonads now commence the mass production of the necessary chemicals. The testes primarily release testosterone , and the ovaries predominantly dispense estrogen.

The production of these hormones increases gradually until sexual maturation is met. Some boys may develop gynecomastia due to an imbalance of sex hormones , tissue responsiveness or obesity. Facial hair in males normally appears in a specific order during puberty: The first facial hair to appear tends to grow at the corners of the upper lip, typically between 14 and 17 years of age.

This is followed by the appearance of hair on the upper part of the cheeks, and the area under the lower lip. Facial hair is often present in late adolescence, around ages 17 and 18, but may not appear until significantly later. The major landmark of puberty for males is spermarche , the first ejaculation , which occurs, on average, at age The timing of puberty can have important psychological and social consequences. Early maturing boys are usually taller and stronger than their friends.

Pubescent boys often tend to have a good body image, are more confident, secure, and more independent. However, early puberty is not always positive for boys; early sexual maturation in boys can be accompanied by increased aggressiveness due to the surge of hormones that affect them. For girls, early maturation can sometimes lead to increased self-consciousness, though a typical aspect in maturing females.

Nearly half of all American high school girls' diets are to lose weight. Girls have usually reached full physical development around ages 15—17, [3] [19] [40] while boys usually complete puberty around ages 16— Girls attain reproductive maturity about four years after the first physical changes of puberty appear. The adolescent growth spurt is a rapid increase in the individual's height and weight during puberty resulting from the simultaneous release of growth hormones, thyroid hormones , and androgens. The weight gained during adolescence constitutes nearly half of one's adult body weight.

The accelerated growth in different body parts happens at different times, but for all adolescents it has a fairly regular sequence. The first places to grow are the extremities—the head, hands and feet—followed by the arms and legs, then the torso and shoulders. During puberty, bones become harder and more brittle. At the conclusion of puberty, the ends of the long bones close during the process called epiphysis. There can be ethnic differences in these skeletal changes. For example, in the United States of America, bone density increases significantly more among black than white adolescents, which might account for decreased likelihood of black women developing osteoporosis and having fewer bone fractures there.

Adolescent Identity Development - Adolescence - ACT for Youth

Another set of significant physical changes during puberty happen in bodily distribution of fat and muscle. This process is different for females and males. Before puberty, there are nearly no sex differences in fat and muscle distribution; during puberty, boys grow muscle much faster than girls, although both sexes experience rapid muscle development. In contrast, though both sexes experience an increase in body fat, the increase is much more significant for girls. Frequently, the increase in fat for girls happens in their years just before puberty.

The ratio between muscle and fat among post-pubertal boys is around three to one, while for girls it is about five to four. This may help explain sex differences in athletic performance. Pubertal development also affects circulatory and respiratory systems as an adolescents' heart and lungs increase in both size and capacity. These changes lead to increased strength and tolerance for exercise. Sex differences are apparent as males tend to develop "larger hearts and lungs, higher systolic blood pressure, a lower resting heart rate, a greater capacity for carrying oxygen to the blood, a greater power for neutralizing the chemical products of muscular exercise, higher blood hemoglobin and more red blood cells".

Despite some genetic sex differences, environmental factors play a large role in biological changes during adolescence. For example, girls tend to reduce their physical activity in preadolescence [48] [49] and may receive inadequate nutrition from diets that often lack important nutrients, such as iron. Primary sex characteristics are those directly related to the sex organs. In males, the first stages of puberty involve growth of the testes and scrotum, followed by growth of the penis.

The first ejaculation of seminal fluid generally occurs about one year after the beginning of accelerated penis growth, although this is often determined culturally rather than biologically, since for many boys first ejaculation occurs as a result of masturbation.

In females, changes in the primary sex characteristics involve growth of the uterus, vagina, and other aspects of the reproductive system. Menarche , the beginning of menstruation, is a relatively late development which follows a long series of hormonal changes. Changes in secondary sex characteristics include every change that is not directly related to sexual reproduction. In males, these changes involve appearance of pubic, facial, and body hair, deepening of the voice, roughening of the skin around the upper arms and thighs, and increased development of the sweat glands.

In females, secondary sex changes involve elevation of the breasts, widening of the hips, development of pubic and underarm hair, widening of the areolae, and elevation of the nipples. The human brain is not fully developed by the time a person reaches puberty. Between the ages of 10 and 25, the brain undergoes changes that have important implications for behavior see Cognitive development below. However, the creases in the brain continue to become more complex until the late teens. The biggest changes in the folds of the brain during this time occur in the parts of the cortex that process cognitive and emotional information.

Over the course of adolescence, the amount of white matter in the brain increases linearly, while the amount of grey matter in the brain follows an inverted-U pattern. However, this does not mean that the brain loses functionality; rather, it becomes more efficient due to increased myelination insulation of axons and the reduction of unused pathways. The first areas of the brain to be pruned are those involving primary functions, such as motor and sensory areas. The areas of the brain involved in more complex processes lose matter later in development.

These include the lateral and prefrontal cortices, among other regions. During adolescence, myelination and synaptic pruning in the prefrontal cortex increases, improving the efficiency of information processing, and neural connections between the prefrontal cortex and other regions of the brain are strengthened.

Specifically, developments in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex are important for controlling impulses and planning ahead, while development in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex is important for decision making. Changes in the orbitofrontal cortex are important for evaluating rewards and risks. Three neurotransmitters that play important roles in adolescent brain development are glutamate , dopamine and serotonin. Glutamate is an excitatory neurotransmitter. During the synaptic pruning that occurs during adolescence, most of the neural connections that are pruned contain receptors for glutamate or other excitatory neurotransmitters.

Dopamine is associated with pleasure and attuning to the environment during decision-making. During adolescence, dopamine levels in the limbic system increase and input of dopamine to the prefrontal cortex increases. Serotonin is a neuromodulator involved in regulation of mood and behavior.

Development in the limbic system plays an important role in determining rewards and punishments and processing emotional experience and social information. Changes in the levels of the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin in the limbic system make adolescents more emotional and more responsive to rewards and stress. The corresponding increase in emotional variability also can increase adolescents' vulnerability. The effect of serotonin is not limited to the limbic system: Several serotonin receptors have their gene expression change dramatically during adolescence, particularly in the human frontal and prefrontal cortex.

Adolescence is also a time for rapid cognitive development. This allows the individual to think and reason in a wider perspective. Biological changes in brain structure and connectivity within the brain interact with increased experience, knowledge, and changing social demands to produce rapid cognitive growth see Changes in the brain above. The age at which particular changes take place varies between individuals, but the changes discussed below begin at puberty or shortly after that and some skills continue to develop as the adolescent ages.

The dual systems model proposes a maturational imbalance between development of the socioemotional system and cognitive control systems in the brain that contribute to impulsivity and other behaviors characteristic of adolescence. There are at least two major approaches to understanding cognitive change during adolescence. One is the constructivist view of cognitive development. Based on the work of Piaget , it takes a quantitative, state-theory approach, hypothesizing that adolescents' cognitive improvement is relatively sudden and drastic.

The second is the information-processing perspective , which derives from the study of artificial intelligence and attempts to explain cognitive development in terms of the growth of specific components of the thinking process. By the time individuals have reached age 15 or so, their basic thinking abilities are comparable to those of adults. These improvements occur in five areas during adolescence:. Studies since indicate that the brain is not fully formed until the early twenties.

Adolescents' thinking is less bound to concrete events than that of children: they can contemplate possibilities outside the realm of what currently exists. One manifestation of the adolescent's increased facility with thinking about possibilities is the improvement of skill in deductive reasoning , which leads to the development of hypothetical thinking.

This provides the ability to plan ahead, see the future consequences of an action and to provide alternative explanations of events. It also makes adolescents more skilled debaters, as they can reason against a friend's or parent's assumptions. Adolescents also develop a more sophisticated understanding of probability. The appearance of more systematic, abstract thinking is another notable aspect of cognitive development during adolescence.

For example, adolescents find it easier than children to comprehend the sorts of higher-order abstract logic inherent in puns, proverbs, metaphors, and analogies. Their increased facility permits them to appreciate the ways in which language can be used to convey multiple messages, such as satire, metaphor, and sarcasm.

Children younger than age nine often cannot comprehend sarcasm at all. A third gain in cognitive ability involves thinking about thinking itself, a process referred to as metacognition. It often involves monitoring one's own cognitive activity during the thinking process. Adolescents' improvements in knowledge of their own thinking patterns lead to better self-control and more effective studying. It is also relevant in social cognition, resulting in increased introspection , self-consciousness , and intellectualization in the sense of thought about one's own thoughts, rather than the Freudian definition as a defense mechanism.

Adolescents are much better able than children to understand that people do not have complete control over their mental activity. Being able to introspect may lead to two forms of adolescent egocentrism, which results in two distinct problems in thinking: the imaginary audience and the personal fable. These likely peak at age fifteen, along with self-consciousness in general. Related to metacognition and abstract thought , perspective-taking involves a more sophisticated theory of mind. Compared to children, adolescents are more likely to question others' assertions, and less likely to accept facts as absolute truths.

Characteristics of peer group

Through experience outside the family circle, they learn that rules they were taught as absolute are in fact relativistic. They begin to differentiate between rules instituted out of common sense—not touching a hot stove—and those that are based on culturally-relative standards codes of etiquette, not dating until a certain age , a delineation that younger children do not make.

This can lead to a period of questioning authority in all domains. Wisdom , or the capacity for insight and judgment that is developed through experience, [80] increases between the ages of fourteen and twenty-five, then levels off. Thus, it is during the adolescence-adulthood transition that individuals acquire the type of wisdom that is associated with age. Wisdom is not the same as intelligence: adolescents do not improve substantially on IQ tests since their scores are relative to others in their same age group, and relative standing usually does not change—everyone matures at approximately the same rate in this way.

Because most injuries sustained by adolescents are related to risky behavior alcohol consumption and drug use, reckless or distracted driving, unprotected sex , a great deal of research has been done on the cognitive and emotional processes underlying adolescent risk-taking. In addressing this question, it is important to distinguish whether adolescents are more likely to engage in risky behaviors prevalence , whether they make risk-related decisions similarly or differently than adults cognitive processing perspective , or whether they use the same processes but value different things and thus arrive at different conclusions.

The behavioral decision-making theory proposes that adolescents and adults both weigh the potential rewards and consequences of an action.

However, research has shown that adolescents seem to give more weight to rewards, particularly social rewards, than do adults. Research seems to favor the hypothesis that adolescents and adults think about risk in similar ways, but hold different values and thus come to different conclusions. Some have argued that there may be evolutionary benefits to an increased propensity for risk-taking in adolescence. For example, without a willingness to take risks, teenagers would not have the motivation or confidence necessary to leave their family of origin.

In addition, from a population perspective, there is an advantage to having a group of individuals willing to take more risks and try new methods, counterbalancing the more conservative elements more typical of the received knowledge held by older adults. Risktaking may also have reproductive advantages: adolescents have a newfound priority in sexual attraction and dating, and risk-taking is required to impress potential mates.

Research also indicates that baseline sensation seeking may affect risk-taking behavior throughout the lifespan. Having unprotected sex, using poor birth control methods e. Aspects of adolescents' lives that are correlated with risky sexual behavior include higher rates of parental abuse, and lower rates of parental support and monitoring. Related to their increased tendency for risk-taking, adolescents show impaired behavioral inhibition, including deficits in extinction learning.

The formal study of adolescent psychology began with the publication of G. Stanley Hall 's "Adolescence in ". Hall, who was the first president of the American Psychological Association , viewed adolescence primarily as a time of internal turmoil and upheaval sturm und drang. This understanding of youth was based on two then new ways of understanding human behavior : Darwin's evolutionary theory and Freud's psychodynamic theory.

He believed that adolescence was a representation of our human ancestors' phylogenetic shift from being primitive to being civilized. Hall's assertions stood relatively uncontested until the s when psychologists such as Erik Erikson and Anna Freud started to formulate their theories about adolescence. Freud believed that the psychological disturbances associated with youth were biologically based and culturally universal while Erikson focused on the dichotomy between identity formation and role fulfillment.

The less turbulent aspects of adolescence, such as peer relations and cultural influence, were left largely ignored until the s.

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From the '50s until the '80s, the focus of the field was mainly on describing patterns of behavior as opposed to explaining them. The Oakland Growth Study, initiated by Harold Jones and Herbert Stolz in , aimed to study the physical, intellectual, and social development of children in the Oakland area. Data collection began in and continued until , allowing the researchers to gather longitudinal data on the individuals that extended past adolescence into adulthood.

Jean Macfarlane launched the Berkeley Guidance Study, which examined the development of children in terms of their socioeconomic and family backgrounds. Elder formulated several descriptive principles of adolescent development. The principle of historical time and place states that an individual's development is shaped by the period and location in which they grow up.

The principle of the importance of timing in one's life refers to the different impact that life events have on development based on when in one's life they occur. The idea of linked lives states that one's development is shaped by the interconnected network of relationships of which one is a part; and the principle of human agency asserts that one's life course is constructed via the choices and actions of an individual within the context of their historical period and social network.

In , the Society for Research on Adolescence SRA became the first official organization dedicated to the study of adolescent psychology. Some of the issues first addressed by this group include: the nature versus nurture debate as it pertains to adolescence; understanding the interactions between adolescents and their environment; and considering culture, social groups, and historical context when interpreting adolescent behavior.

Evolutionary biologists like Jeremy Griffith have drawn parallels between adolescent psychology and the developmental evolution of modern humans from hominid ancestors as a manifestation of ontogeny recapitulating phylogeny. Identity development is a stage in the adolescent life cycle. During these years, adolescents are more open to 'trying on' different behaviours and appearances to discover who they are. Developing and maintaining identity in adolescent years is a difficult task due to multiple factors such as family life, environment, and social status. The years of adolescence create a more conscientious group of young adults.

Adolescents pay close attention and give more time and effort to their appearance as their body goes through changes. Unlike children, teens put forth an effort to look presentable Studies done by the American Psychological Association have shown that adolescents with a less privileged upbringing have a more difficult time developing their identity.

The idea of self-concept is known as the ability of a person to have opinions and beliefs that are defined confidently, consistent and stable. As a result, adolescents experience a significant shift from the simple, concrete, and global self-descriptions typical of young children; as children they defined themselves by physical traits whereas adolescents define themselves based on their values, thoughts, and opinions.

Adolescents can conceptualize multiple "possible selves" that they could become [] and long-term possibilities and consequences of their choices. For many, these distinctions are uncomfortable, but they also appear to motivate achievement through behavior consistent with the ideal and distinct from the feared possible selves.

Further distinctions in self-concept, called "differentiation," occur as the adolescent recognizes the contextual influences on their own behavior and the perceptions of others, and begin to qualify their traits when asked to describe themselves. The recognition of inconsistent content in the self-concept is a common source of distress in these years see Cognitive dissonance , [] but this distress may benefit adolescents by encouraging structural development.

Egocentrism in adolescents forms a self-conscious desire to feel important in their peer groups and enjoy social acceptance. Everyone has a self-concept, whereas Erik Erikson argued that not everyone fully achieves identity. Erikson's theory of stages of development includes the identity crisis in which adolescents must explore different possibilities and integrate different parts of themselves before committing to their beliefs. He described the resolution of this process as a stage of "identity achievement" but also stressed that the identity challenge "is never fully resolved once and for all at one point in time".

Trial and error in matching both their perceived image and the image others respond to and see, allows for the adolescent to grasp an understanding of who they are. Just as fashion is evolving to influence adolescents so is the media. Researcher James Marcia developed the current method for testing an individual's progress along these stages. Answers are scored based on extent to which the individual has explored and the degree to which he has made commitments.

The result is classification of the individual into a identity diffusion in which all children begin, b Identity Foreclosure in which commitments are made without the exploration of alternatives, c Moratorium, or the process of exploration, or d Identity Achievement in which Moratorium has occurred and resulted in commitments. Research since reveals self-examination beginning early in adolescence, but identity achievement rarely occurring before age An adolescent's environment plays a huge role in their identity development. It has been recently found that demographic patterns suggest that the transition to adulthood is now occurring over a longer span of years than was the case during the middle of the 20th century.

Accordingly, youth, a period that spans late adolescence and early adulthood, has become a more prominent stage of the life course. This therefore has caused various factors to become important during this development. All of these factors are affected by the environment an adolescent grows up in. A child from a more privileged upbringing is exposed to more opportunities and better situations in general.

An adolescent from an inner city or a crime-driven neighborhood is more likely to be exposed to an environment that can be detrimental to their development.

Adolescence is a sensitive period in the development process, and exposure to the wrong things at that time can have a major effect on future decisions. While children that grow up in nice suburban communities are not exposed to bad environments they are more likely to participate in activities that can benefit their identity and contribute to a more successful identity development. Sexual orientation has been defined as "an erotic inclination toward people of one or more genders, most often described as sexual or erotic attractions".

Some theorists believe that there are many different possible developmental paths one could take, and that the specific path an individual follows may be determined by their sex, orientation, and when they reached the onset of puberty. In , Troiden proposed a four-stage model for the development of homosexual sexual identity. The second stage, identity confusion, tends to occur a few years later.

In this stage, the youth is overwhelmed by feelings of inner turmoil regarding their sexual orientation, and begins to engage sexual experiences with same-sex partners. In the third stage of identity assumption, which usually takes place a few years after the adolescent has left home, adolescents begin to come out to their family and close friends, and assumes a self-definition as gay, lesbian, or bisexual.

Therefore, this model estimates that the process of coming out begins in childhood, and continues through the early to mid 20s. This model has been contested, and alternate ideas have been explored in recent years. Many adolescents may choose to come out during this period of their life once an identity has been formed; many others may go through a period of questioning or denial, which can include experimentation with both homosexual and heterosexual experiences. Peer pressure is a large factor when youth who are questioning their sexuality or gender identity are surrounded by heteronormative peers and can cause great distress due to a feeling of being different from everyone else.

While coming out can also foster better psychological adjustment, the risks associated are real. Indeed, coming out in the midst of a heteronormative peer environment often comes with the risk of ostracism, hurtful jokes, and even violence. The final major aspect of identity formation is self-esteem. Self-esteem is defined as one's thoughts and feelings about one's self-concept and identity.

When they fail to win friends' approval or couldn't find someone with whom to share common activities and common interests, in these cases, girls suffer from low self-esteem. In contrast, boys are more concerned with establishing and asserting their independence and defining their relation to authority. Due to the fact that both men and women happen to have a low self-esteem after ending a romantic relationship, they are prone to other symptoms that is caused by this state. The relationships adolescents have with their peers, family, and members of their social sphere play a vital role in the social development of an adolescent.

As an adolescent's social sphere develops rapidly as they distinguish the differences between friends and acquaintances, they often become heavily emotionally invested in friends. Adolescence is a critical period in social development because adolescents can be easily influenced by the people they develop close relationships with. This is the first time individuals can truly make their own decisions, which also makes this a sensitive period. Relationships are vital in the social development of an adolescent due to the extreme influence peers can have over an individual.

These relationships become significant because they begin to help the adolescent understand the concept of personalities, how they form and why a person has that specific type of personality. In other words, by comparing one person's personality characteristics to another's, we would be setting up the framework for creating a general theory of personality and, In social comparison we use reference groups, with respect to both psychological and identity development.

Research shows that relationships have the largest affect over the social development of an individual. Adolescence marks a rapid change in one's role within a family. Young children tend to assert themselves forcefully, but are unable to demonstrate much influence over family decisions until early adolescence, [] when they are increasingly viewed by parents as equals. The adolescent faces the task of increasing independence while preserving a caring relationship with his or her parents. Arguments often concern minor issues of control, such as curfew, acceptable clothing, and the adolescent's right to privacy , [] [] which adolescents may have previously viewed as issues over which their parents had complete authority.

Social media has also played an increasing role in adolescent and parent disagreements. While adolescents strive for their freedoms, the unknowns to parents of what their child is doing on social media sites is a challenging subject, due to the increasing amount of predators on social media sites. Many parents have very little knowledge of social networking sites in the first place and this further increases their mistrust.

An important challenge for the parent—adolescent relationship is to understand how to enhance the opportunities of online communication while managing its risks. Regarding their important life issues, most adolescents still share the same attitudes and values as their parents. During childhood , siblings are a source of conflict and frustration as well as a support system. In same-sex sibling pairs, intimacy increases during early adolescence, then remains stable. Mixed-sex siblings pairs act differently; siblings drift apart during early adolescent years, but experience an increase in intimacy starting at middle adolescence.

Siblings are able to act as peers, and may increase one another's sociability and feelings of self-worth. Older siblings can give guidance to younger siblings, although the impact of this can be either positive or negative depending on the activity of the older sibling. A potential important influence on adolescence is change of the family dynamic, specifically divorce.

Custody disputes soon after a divorce often reflect a playing out of control battles and ambivalence between parents. Divorce usually results in less contact between the adolescent and their noncustodial parent. However, most research suggests a negative effect on adolescence as well as later development. A recent study found that, compared with peers who grow up in stable post-divorce families, children of divorce who experience additional family transitions during late adolescence, make less progress in their math and social studies performance over time.

These negative effects include romantic relationships and conflict style, meaning as adults, they are more likely to use the styles of avoidance and competing in conflict management. Despite changing family roles during adolescence, the home environment and parents are still important for the behaviors and choices of adolescents. A study conducted by Adalbjarnardottir and Blondal showed that adolescents at the age of 14 who identify their parents as authoritative figures are more likely to complete secondary education by the age of 22—as support and encouragement from an authoritative parent motivates the adolescence to complete schooling to avoid disappointing that parent.

Peer groups are essential to social and general development. Communication with peers increases significantly during adolescence and peer relationships become more intense than in other stages [] and more influential to the teen, affecting both the decisions and choices being made.

As children begin to bond with various people and create friendships, it later helps them when they are adolescent and sets up the framework for adolescence and peer groups. Communication within peer groups allows adolescents to explore their feelings and identity as well as develop and evaluate their social skills. Peer groups offer members the opportunity to develop social skills such as empathy, sharing, and leadership. Adolescents choose peer groups based on characteristics similarly found in themselves.

Group norms and values are incorporated into an adolescent's own self-concept. Peer groups can have positive influences on an individual, such as on academic motivation and performance. However, while peers may facilitate social development for one another they may also hinder it. Peers can have negative influences, such as encouraging experimentation with drugs, drinking, vandalism, and stealing through peer pressure.

Adolescents tend to associate with "cliques" on a small scale and "crowds" on a larger scale. During early adolescence, adolescents often associate in cliques , exclusive, single-sex groups of peers with whom they are particularly close. Despite the common [ according to whom? Within a clique of highly athletic male-peers, for example, the clique may create a stronger sense of fidelity and competition. Cliques also have become somewhat a "collective parent", i.

On a larger scale, adolescents often associate with crowds , groups of individuals who share a common interest or activity. Often, crowd identities may be the basis for stereotyping young people, such as jocks or nerds. In large, multi-ethnic high schools, there are often ethnically determined crowds. An important aspect of communication is the channel used. Channel , in this respect, refers to the form of communication, be it face-to-face, email, text message, phone or other. Teens are heavy users of newer forms of communication such as text message and social-networking websites such as Facebook, especially when communicating with peers.

Romantic relationships tend to increase in prevalence throughout adolescence.

7.3 Adolescence: Developing Independence and Identity

This constant increase in the likelihood of a long-term relationship can be explained by sexual maturation and the development of cognitive skills necessary to maintain a romantic bond e. Overall, positive romantic relationships among adolescents can result in long-term benefits. High-quality romantic relationships are associated with higher commitment in early adulthood [] and are positively associated with self-esteem, self-confidence, and social competence.

While most adolescents date people approximately their own age, boys typically date partners the same age or younger; girls typically date partners the same age or older. Some researchers are now focusing on learning about how adolescents view their own relationships and sexuality; they want to move away from a research point of view that focuses on the problems associated with adolescent sexuality. This means that private thoughts about the relationship as well as public recognition of the relationship were both important to the adolescents in the sample.

Sexual events such as sexual touching, sexual intercourse were less common than romantic events holding hands and social events being with one's partner in a group setting. The researchers state that these results are important because the results focus on the more positive aspects of adolescents and their social and romantic interactions rather than focusing on sexual behavior and its consequences.

Adolescence marks a time of sexual maturation, which manifests in social interactions as well. While adolescents may engage in casual sexual encounters often referred to as hookups , most sexual experience during this period of development takes place within romantic relationships. From these social media encounters, a further relationship may begin. Among young adolescents, "heavy" sexual activity, marked by genital stimulation, is often associated with violence, depression, and poor relationship quality.

For older adolescents, though, sexual activity in the context of romantic relationships was actually correlated with lower levels of deviant behavior after controlling for genetic risks, as opposed to sex outside of a relationship hook-ups []. Dating violence is fairly prevalent within adolescent relationships. This reported aggression includes hitting, throwing things, or slaps, although most of this physical aggression does not result in a medical visit. Physical aggression in relationships tends to decline from high school through college and young adulthood.

In heterosexual couples, there is no significant difference between the rates of male and female aggressors, unlike in adult relationships. Adolescent girls with male partners who are older than them are at higher risk for adverse sexual health outcomes than their peers. Research suggests that the larger the partner age difference, the less relationship power the girls experience. Behavioral interventions such as developing relationship skills in identifying, preventing, and coping with controlling behaviors may be beneficial.

For condom use promotion, it is important to identify decision-making patterns within relationships and increase the power of the adolescent female in the relationship. Recent research findings suggest that a substantial portion of young urban females are at high risk for being victims of multiple forms of IPV. Practitioners diagnosing depression among urban minority teens should assess for both physical and non-physical forms of IPV, and early detection can help to identify youths in need of intervention and care. Therefore, screening should be a routine part of medical treatment for adolescents regardless of chief complaint.

In contemporary society, adolescents also face some risks as their sexuality begins to transform. One in four sexually active teenagers will contract an STI. Across the country, clinicians report rising diagnoses of herpes and human papillomavirus HPV , which can cause genital warts, and is now thought to affect 15 percent of the teen population.

Girls 15 to 19 have higher rates of gonorrhea than any other age group. One-quarter of all new HIV cases occur in those under the age of They also believe students should be able to be tested for STIs. Furthermore, teachers want to address such topics with their students. But, although 9 in 10 sex education instructors across the country believe that students should be taught about contraceptives in school, over one quarter report receiving explicit instructions from school boards and administrators not to do so.

According to anthropologist Margaret Mead , the turmoil found in adolescence in Western society has a cultural rather than a physical cause; they reported that societies where young women engaged in free sexual activity had no such adolescent turmoil. There are certain characteristics of adolescent development that are more rooted in culture than in human biology or cognitive structures.

Culture has been defined as the "symbolic and behavioral inheritance received from the past that provides a community framework for what is valued". Furthermore, distinguishing characteristics of youth, including dress, music and other uses of media, employment, art, food and beverage choices, recreation, and language, all constitute a youth culture. Many cultures are present within any given country and racial or socioeconomic group.

Furthermore, to avoid ethnocentrism , researchers must be careful not to define the culture's role in adolescence in terms of their own cultural beliefs. In Britain, teenagers first came to public attention during the Second World War, when there were fears of juvenile delinquency. The exaggerated moral panic among politicians and the older generation was typically belied by the growth in intergenerational cooperation between parents and children.

Many working-class parents, enjoying newfound economic security, eagerly took the opportunity to encourage their teens to enjoy more adventurous lives. The degree to which adolescents are perceived as autonomous beings varies widely by culture, as do the behaviors that represent this emerging autonomy. Psychologists have identified three main types of autonomy : emotional independence, behavioral autonomy, and cognitive autonomy. Cultural differences are especially visible in this category because it concerns issues of dating, social time with peers, and time-management decisions.

A questionnaire called the teen timetable has been used to measure the age at which individuals believe adolescents should be able to engage in behaviors associated with autonomy. In sub-Saharan African youth, the notions of individuality and freedom may not be useful in understanding adolescent development.

Rather, African notions of childhood and adolescent development are relational and interdependent. The lifestyle of an adolescent in a given culture is profoundly shaped by the roles and responsibilities he or she is expected to assume. The extent to which an adolescent is expected to share family responsibilities is one large determining factor in normative adolescent behavior. For instance, adolescents in certain cultures are expected to contribute significantly to household chores and responsibilities. However, specific household responsibilities for adolescents may vary by culture, family type, and adolescent age.

In addition to the sharing of household chores, certain cultures expect adolescents to share in their family's financial responsibilities. According to family economic and financial education specialists, adolescents develop sound money management skills through the practices of saving and spending money, as well as through planning ahead for future economic goals. While adolescence is a time frequently marked by participation in the workforce, the number of adolescents in the workforce is much lower now than in years past as a result of increased accessibility and perceived importance of formal higher education.

Furthermore, the amount of time adolescents spend on work and leisure activities varies greatly by culture as a result of cultural norms and expectations, as well as various socioeconomic factors. American teenagers spend less time in school or working and more time on leisure activities—which include playing sports, socializing, and caring for their appearance—than do adolescents in many other countries.

Time management, financial roles, and social responsibilities of adolescents are therefore closely connected with the education sector and processes of career development for adolescents, as well as to cultural norms and social expectations. In many ways, adolescents' experiences with their assumed social roles and responsibilities determine the length and quality of their initial pathway into adult roles. Adolescents have an increased sensitivity about their body image and react with anxiety and frustration regarding their idealized image, which may lead to depressive states, as a factor of devaluation 3.

A study performed in a Psychiatric Emergency Unit sought to characterize adolescents who attempt suicide and stress some aspects: most have an immature view of death; attempt suicide to get attention, because they experience come sort of conflict, related with disagreement or a broken romantic or family relationship; problems at school, with friends, or conflicts regarding their sexuality, self-image, which also interfere in their social relationships Adolescence: flourished sexuality. Sexuality in all its forms of expression has always been a controversial subject and would not be any different in the school context.

In adolescence, sexuality appears in the form of physical, psychological and social changes at the same time, because the new conformation of the body and its attitudes imply their establishing a new relationship with the society. This social change may be worsened and strengthened, if together with the natural process of opening to the world through the physical expression of a new body and new attitudes, they experience early pregnancy, which changes the life of adolescents with themselves, with their family, school, and everything else that surrounds them.

by Niemi Richard G

It called out attention the fact that sexuality was not a frequently discussed issue, although most literature about adolescence refers to the sexual changes due to the of physical maturity process inherent to human development, regardless of adolescents wanting it or not. Those changes often cause intense psychological distress. While researching on the theme we found several studies developed by health and education professionals in primary and high schools, but most focused on sexuality, early pregnancy and on the prevention of drug use and abuse.

During the Group Discussion, sexuality was not a openly discussed theme, perhaps due to the difficulty to accept this issue among adolescents, in an attempt to maintain the false idea of their innocence and purity that is directly connected to the child image These attitudes contribute with creating prejudice and erroneous views about the issue. Perhaps it is difficult for many people to admit the idea of sexuality in childhood and adolescence, because there is a strong idea of innocence and purity associated to the children who are slowly moving into adult life.

It is necessary for teachers to be prepared and have knowledge about this issue. In addition, the role of the school should be that of making room for this discussion, respecting diversity and the differences in opinions Although sexuality was a theme not often approached in the Group Discussion, we observed it was present in the everyday school life, though one of its most evident manifestations that society cannot ignore: its practice, which, sometimes, results in pregnancy in adolescence.

In eight grade, I have a student who just had a baby [ I have a student, she wears braces, she just had a baby, she's like a little girl, she doesn't even have the body of a woman [ So when the person is pregnant what do we have to do? We have to try for the best possible solution [ The teachers expressed their concerns in view of unexpected pregnancy in adolescents.

This occurred because they know the needs and problems of the adolescents, added to the difficulties particular of this phase of development. They try to offer support and the available resources to deal with the situation and to organize the new role that is required by maternity. Unwanted pregnancy in adolescence emerges as a problem, a risk that should be avoided, because it is an inadequate condition at their age, either planned or unplanned.

It has unpleasant aspects related with the factors that are unleashed and represents compromising the young pregnant girl's personal, social and professional development, such as loosing freedom, interrupting studies and causing disharmony in family relationships 8. Becoming an adolescent: the search for an identity as a human being. For the participants, becoming an adolescent is a phase in life in which the person lives a constant process of destruction and restructuring. Adolescents experience several losses and achievements in a transition from a childish to an adult identity.

This occurs due to the progressive acquisitions of personality. Adolescents test limits, they are question and criticize excessively, they want their ideas to prevail, they believe they have no limits, and are always searching for new challenges, they are impetuous, immature, insecure, and try to stand by reference groups. They was to stand as people se, as an individual, to question, not be equal, be different, to get where we are [ Adolescents take a position of making their desires, they want to be heard and answered.

Adolescents search their new configuration and meaning while a new being emerges in face of the complexity of so many different feelings and sensations. Forming their identity is a mental process of thinking and observing, which occurs simultaneously and unconsciously and adolescents judges themselves based on what they understand is how others judge them 8. When seeking their new identity, they have to differentiate themselves from their parents, and therefore have to deny them in order to be themselves, they need that contraposition to achieve their own values and construct their self-image.

Hence, the parent-child conflict becomes part of their lives 4. Another issue often observed is in adolescent behavior are the conflicts among friends, resentment, regret and revolt towards their parents [and teachers], through the provocative way that adolescents behave, with disrespect, insubordination and indignation 8.

They think they already know everything and they come question and want to discuss with use, often for no reason [ They are more critical, they are very critical because adolescents today have more information [ It is evidenced that, at this moment in life, adolescents have the ability to reason and establish abstract combining relationships, considering that formal intelligence is the summit of intellectual evolution. They are capable of formulating hypothesis and establishing coherent reasoning.

They acquire the ability to question many aspects of life and increase their cultural background.

It is the beginning of an introspective life and the search for truths In this need to intellectualize and fantasize emerge great philosophical theories, ideas of how de save humanity, choosing political activities, etc. It is also in this phase that adolescents begin writing poems, stories, novels, and dedicate their time to artistic and literary activities 4. Many adults affirm that adolescents are rebels, unadjusted individuals, who protest against social values, but are unable to present significant alternatives to make positive changes in the society that they criticize 9. For an adjustment to take place with the society, family members, and with themselves, adolescents oppose certain values, dogmas, prejudice, and stigmas imposed by the society because their attitude of childish spectator becomes an active and questioning attitude, resulting in a change in their behavior.

This moment is essential for their development, and leads them towards experiencing the world in different ways, but they are often misunderstood. It is a time in life when every doubt and all questions about the future appear [ Adolescence is not linear, rather it occurs gradually.

Adolescents slowly conquer their space and autonomy, experiencing a possible independence that will demand new abilities and changes in their standard behaviors. However, these adolescents wish to be protected and promoted with the same advantages of their childhood. Hence, adolescence consists of movements with fluctuations between maintaining the dependence of a child and assuming the independence of an adult in view of the separation from their parents which occurs gradually. This characteristic causes instability, a disharmony experienced in this phase, as the process of detaching is painful, but necessary for human development 4,8.

For the participants, when adolescents project themselves in adult life, in a very near future, gradually discovers their places in society, dream about the tomorrow, have desires and ambitions, construct life projects and rehearse their possible occupations. They pointed at adolescence as a phase of expectations towards the future when they search for paths that adjust to their desires of physical, psychological, emotional, social and professional achievements, and fight for developing their knowledge. The participants see all transformations as an itinerary that will eventually culminate in the entrance to the adult world and recognize that for adolescent to achieve maturity, and reach the adult phase and establish themselves professionally, it is important to have a life project.

It is a time of wishes, desires, expectations, and discoveries about themselves and about reality. Even with all their reality, they have a dream of becoming this or that, it is a phase of adolescent wishing [ They are individuals full of dreams, desires, wishes, and expectations towards everything that involves their future [ In our culture, to definitely enter the adult world, adolescents must face the vocational problem, and choose a profession.

The future is important, because the dream of a new social status, often different from that offered by the adults; is the idealization of professions that are currently valued by the society, a promised or idealized space that sometimes is not so accessible. However, they are unable to analyze that, to achieve those expectations, they need to pursue the various life stages 8. When adolescents have a focus, an idealization, a dream to be fulfilled they keep their attention towards achieving that end and, hence, their mind is somehow protected from some distortions that could affect them, such as becoming involved with drugs.

Therefore, the school is a place capable of embracing the distress and difficulties of general development, and of strengthening the good and productive aspects of the students, in addition to encouraging them to focus on healthy interests and recover those who became involved in situations of conflict and disastrous consequences. Teachers, principals and other education and health workers must be sensitive, keep an attentive look, and be eager to expand the array of opportunities of actions that raise the interest of adolescents, as a way of gaining trust.

They think they are capable of everything, that they don't owe obedience to no one, that they are already capable of making decisions about everything. They want independence from everything [ Most have the responsibility of cleaning their homes, making lunch, taking care of a younger brother. When a child enters adolescence and begins having social engagements, go to parties, concerts.

Before, the invitation would be made to their parents. Now they are the ones invited and they often exclude their parents. Taking responsibility is part of adolescent individualization and development, as well as overcoming family dependence, achieving emotional emancipation - an important factor for adolescents to achieve maturity. Social engagements are normal attitudes of people preparing for further responsibilities. They usually acquire this experience by participating in parties, dances, picnics, going to the theater and to the movies.

Why adolescents criticize parents who try their best.

In this circumstance to promote the feeling of independence, adolescents provoke frontal attacks only to differentiate the two generations 9. Adolescence: individuality and group life at the same time. Participants pointed out that the tendency for groups is characteristic of this phase. Adolescents identify themselves with other youths, start spending time together and even wear the same clothes, forming a group with specific identification and characteristics, some are easily identified by their use and habits.

And they are using headbands, earrings, those things [ The fad now is to dress as if they were dirty, they walk with their legs open, wiggling, their body bent forwards [ Did you see the new fad, those boys, the three guys with pink shirts, they sit together in class[ The lower the pants, the more comfortable they feel [ We look at this new fad, I don't know, I think they feel comfortable [ Sometimes, the adolescents' participation in some groups is not well accepted by some of the teachers, because of the characteristics of that specific group and parent-child conflicts frequently arise.

Whenever I see them wearing those pants so low, I feel like dressing them the right way [ He puts them way down here [the teacher placed her hands under her navel to show what she was saying], it's horrible. The identification processes are fundamental in adolescence, as adolescents turn to situations that provide security and self-esteem. This is due to uniformity, in which everyone identifies themselves with each one, especially in individuals who represent the possibility of survival.

The mass double identification process occurs, which explains, at least in part, the group process in which adolescents participate. It is in this phase that the group begins to have its great modeling function, in view of the transformation of their adult identity, which favors the beginning of feelings of fragility, increasing the suggestibility, a period of great vulnerability and susceptibility to influences from the environment, constructive and destructive.

Therefore, whatever the group determines is accepted without much thinking 4. In this period, adults are essential figures with whom the identify themselves, and should be a positive and constructive influence on them, while they also make them realize they are in fact different 3.

Adolescents must recognize there are stronger people than them, who can restrict their impulses to survive, they need someone who can represent them. Teachers recognize the influence that the groups have on the process of becoming an adolescent, including classmates, family and the society. They walk side-by-side with the biological processes, and can have a positive or negative influence on the development of the adolescents' new identity.

One person they can have as a reference, the same role of a father or mother, another person, an uncle, a grandfather, a figure that is really strong, or even an institution, which are references, that can also serve as a basis as a family, other institutions, like church[ In this evolution period, the importance of real parental figures is indispensible. The father has the role of making the rules, they prepare the individual to know the reality, not practice incest, not kill, not steal and accept they cannot do everything they want and suffer no consequences.

The mother has the role to mediate, to protect through guiding and advising. The more complex a society becomes, the greater the number of situations in which others may assume the role of education in the lives of adolescents 3. When there is no family protection or when there is no support, a close relative, teachers, people from correctional institutions for minors, and others, can assume the function of educator for adolescents.

Youths, in their search for identification figures, turn to substitute parents. A figure that emerges and should be added to the identification process of these adolescents is the rescue of the structuring symbolic authority : the teacher. In addition to getting satisfaction from sharing their knowledge, teachers represent the symbolic content , the ethical treasure that youths must incorporate , becoming heritage of humanity , an element of reciprocal encouragement of the fundamental affective bond between teachers and students 3. Teachers can use communication to make it effective for their every action, in all circumstances of life, because through communication they increase the possibility of their students to share their experiences.

In this action of sharing the experience, the person receives an approval or disapproval, which determines their feeling of security and satisfaction, a consequent adjustment to the environment that surrounds them There are different kinds of adolescents. Some are aggressive, some are introspective, and some are cheerful and want to win everybody [ Some differ in term of the age they enter and leave adolescence [ While puberty is used as a global parameter, which is similar in all individuals, adolescence is unique and particular for each being.

Youths suffer sociocultural influences, which make adolescence be experienced differently even for individuals of a same family. It is important to consider that there is not one adolescence, rather there are adolescences, depending on the moment, the political and social setting in which the adolescence lives. Time is marked differently in the different types of society and, due to that disparity, childhood and adolescence begin to be thought and felt distinctively In this study, among the many observations made by the participants, it was possible to identify, in the teachers' statements, the plurality attributed to the process of becoming an adolescent, with emphasis on the uniqueness of adolescence.

As adolescence is a unique phenomenon, it varies according to culture, social class, ethnicity, gender and age, defining particular forms of experiencing this phase. Hence, it cannot be affirmed that all adolescents are the same, though the characteristics and developmental paths are similar and intense, the way they experience them and the time it will occur is particular to each individual. This understanding requires adults to see each adolescent as a unique being, with their unique history and not use a general, homogenized treatment when addressing them.

The teachers stated that the study gave them the opportunity to think about how they have established their interpersonal relationships, especially with adolescents, which are often filled of conflicts and uncomfortable, but, in spite of that, there are moments when they are able to offer help. They also stated it is possible to develop relationships that include care, dedication, comfort, patience and sensitivity, besides passing on curricular contents, which achieves and extrapolated the objective of this study. We observed that teachers find it difficult to express their ideas about cognitive development of adolescents, they appear to have insufficient knowledge about drugs and sexuality and feel insecure in view of these situations.

These considerations point at the need for nursing care in the sense of preparing teachers with the necessary skills to deal with the issues addressed in this study.