Essay by Anonymous UserHigh School, 12th gradeA+, October 1996

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Adolescence is the developmental stage between childhood and adulthood; it generally refers to a period ranging from age 12 or 13 through age 19 or 21. Although its beginning is often balanced with the beginning of puberty, adolescence is characterized by psychological and social stages as well as by biological changes.

Adolescence can be prolonged, brief, or virtually nonexistent, depending on the type of culture in which it occurs. In societies that are simple, for example, the transition from childhood to adulthood tends to occur rather rapidly, and is marked by traditionally prescribed passage rites. to contrast this, American and European societies the transition period for young people has been steadily lengthening over the past 100 years, giving rise to an adolescent subculture. As a result of this prolonged transitional stage a variety of problems and concerns specifically associated with this age group have developed. Psychologists single out four areas that especially touch upon adolescent behavior and development: physiological change and growth; cognitive, or mental development; identity, or personality formation; and parent-adolescent relations.

Physiological Change:

Between the ages of 9 and 15, almost all young people undergo a rapid series of physiological changes, known as the adolescent growth spurt. These hormonal changes include an acceleration in the body's growth rate; the development of pubic hair; the appearance of axillary, or armpit, hair about two years later. There are changes in the structure and functioning of the reproductive organs; the mammary glands in girls; and development of the sweat glands, which often leads to an outbreak of acne. In both sexes, these physiological changes occur at different times. This period of change can prove to be very stressful for a pre-teen. For during this stage of life appearance is very important. An adolescent child who develops very early or extremely late...