Adolescence is the period of psychological and social transition between childhood and adulthood (gender-specific manhood, or womanhood). As a transitional stage of human development, it represents the period of time during which a juvenile matures into adulthood.

Biological development (that is, puberty) and psychosocial development are largely overlapping during the period of adolescence, however clearer boundaries relate to physical development.

"Adolescence" is a cultural and social phenomenon and therefore its endpoints are not easily tied to physical milestones. The word derives from the Latin verb adolescere meaning "to grow up." The time is identified with dramatic changes in the body, along with developments in a person's psychology and academic career. In the onset of adolescence, children usually complete elementary school and enter secondary education, such as middle school or high school. A person between early childhood and the teenage years is sometimes referred to as a pre-teen or tween.During this period of life, most children go through the physical stages of puberty which often begins between the ages of nine and thirteen. Most cultures regard people as becoming adults at various ages of the teenage years.

Discrimination against adolescents
Some adolescents and adults believe that people between the ages of 10 and 18 (or 21 or 25) are subjected to unjust discrimination. This form of discrimination is increasingly referred to as adultism. It is also called ageism, though that is simply prejudice on the grounds of age, not youth particularly. The underlying notion is that adolescents should be treated with equal respect as individuals by adults, institutions, and the law on the basis of their humanity, rather than being seen as "second-class citizens," intellectually inferior, or as the property of adults. This discrimination takes many forms, including lack of citizenship rights such as voting and the right to hold political office, as well as cultural, economic, and systemic disenfranchisement. At the same time, most adolescents are required to pay adult prices for admission to entertainment facilities (theatres, cinemas, amusement parks), and for transportation. There is also ongoing discrimination against adolescents in the areas of incarceration, education, and military recruitment, particularly minority and low-income youth. These young people face systemic and cultural barriers that often precede their right to due process in the law and equal educational opportunities.

Research has proven that social stratification between age groups causes stereotyping and generalization; for instance, the media-perpetuated myth that all adolescents are equally immature, violent and rebellious. This has led to growing number of youth, academics, researchers, and other adults rallying against adultism and ageism; some have organized education programs, protest statements, and organizations.

Furthermore, persons in positions of authority, a notable example is merchants, are frequently reported to give teenagers substandard treatment and service, based upon these stereotypes, possibly as well as because they are often not in positions to complain. An example of this is the fact that teenagers are usually paid far lower wages that adults, regardless of their job experience or qualifications. Economically, this doesn't make sense, as teenagers often have the most money to spend, and nonetheless, each adolescent will one day become an adult consumer is his or her own right with the accompanying purchasing power.

Adolesence is usually an easy target for the media. More often than not, figures and statements portrayed as fact and reality are incorrect and misleading if not down right false and deceptive. Some individuals have taken a stand against this mass-generational slander, such as Mike Males in his article "Media Myths about Teenagers".

Psychology of adolescents
Maturity in body leads to an interest in sexual activities, sometimes leading to teenage pregnancy. Since some teens may not be emotionally or mentally mature enough to handle sexual activity, or financially able to support children, it is considered problematic in western society.

At this age there is also a greater probability of drug and alcohol use, or mental health disorders such as schizophrenia, eating disorders such as anorexia, and depression. The unstable emotions or lack of emotional intelligence among some adolescents may also lead to youth crime.

Searching for a unique identity is one of the problems that adolescents often face. At this age, role models such as sports players, rock stars and movie and television performers are very popular, and adolescents often express a desire to be like their chosen role model. For this reason, people who are considered role models are often heavily criticized for their behavior, because in our time they are, we might say almost without exception, not socially conscious enough for the standard to which most children are held by most parents today. Of course, this doesn't mean that proper upbringing and an inspired life are contradictions; but there rages an argument about how soon one must make room for the other.

G. Stanley Hall denoted this period as one of "Storm and Stress". Conflict at this developmental stage is normal and not unusual. Margaret Mead, on the other hand, attributed adolescent behavior to their culture. Piaget attributed this stage in development with greatly increased cognitive abilities, which can cause conflict as the individual has gained the cognitive ability to reason, dispute, and theorize on an adult level.

The information processing theory, on the other hand, does not see this as a qualitatively different stage, but rather just part of the uniformally gradual slope in gaining more experience. Another equally interesting view is the inventionist view, which states that adolescence is merely a creation of sociohistory. Especially important in this view are the sociohistorical circumstances at the beginning of the twentieth century, a time when legislation was enacted that ensured the dependency of youth and made their move into the economic sphere more manageable.

Positive Psychology is sometimes brought up when addressing adolescent psychology as well. In many groups, one encounters a surprising number of teens who are bored, unmotivated, and pessimistic about their future. A positive psychology styled approach attempts to start up their internal fires, help them develop the complex skills and dispositions necessary to take charge of their lives, to become socially competent, compassionate and psychologically vigorous adults. The article "Positive psychology and adolescent mental health: false promise or true breakthrough?", by Thomas M Kelly, discusses it more.

Scientists have discovered, using Magnetic Resonance Imaging, that teen brains are changing pretty drastically, including "pruning" the gray matter and developing more white matter. This might explain some of the erratic, illogical and emotional behavior thought to be characteristic of teenagers. It also might explain why schizophrenia often does not show up until young adulthood.

For more details on Adolescent Children, please visit www.ahckolkata.org.

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