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Definition of Adolescence

Adolescence can be simply defined as the period of a person’s life between puberty and maturity (adulthood) generally the teenage years, but not always.  In recent years, research has suggested that adolescence is wider than the teenage years. Girls and boys may start puberty at an earlier age, eight and maybe younger in some cases. Recent research also suggests that adolescence is going on for longer than the teenage years, even into the early twenties.

So when we say adolescence, we do mean just that, the period of time in a person’s life from puberty to maturity (adulthood). 

For humans, it is not merely something discussed in scientific terms, but rather an important social phase in a person’s life.  Sooner or later after puberty, a person will be expected to take on adult responsibilities.  The time that this occurs will depend on the culture in which he/she lives.  Adolescence is a universally recognised phase often marked by instruction and ceremony throughout the world.  Formal ceremonies tend to be rarer today, but they still occur. For example, certificates for leaving school. 

In Western society, pre-adolescent children expect to be cared for by their parents or caregivers, whilst post-adolescent children are expected to be more responsible for their own physical, emotional, intellectual health and their own legal responsibilities. 

Adolescence is often a period of crisis for the young person and his/her family. 

Adolescence and the idea of teenagers is a relatively new concept.  Prior to education for all, people were adults or children. However, since the 1950s, the idea of a teenager has developed.  Adolescence is a time of great transition, physically, mentally and emotionally for a child, as they move from childhood to adulthood.  We will consider more on these changes in future lessons.  In this lesson, we will consider the different theories in relation to human development, particularly focusing on adolescence.

This is a short excerpt from our Adolescent Psychology course. If you would like to learn more about adolescent psychology, then why not have a look at our courses -

Adolescent Psychology

Certificate in Adolescent Studies

Certificate in Child and Adolescent Mental Health

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