The Adolescent in Society
Adolescence is the period between the normal onset of puberty and the beginning of adulthood. Puberty is the physical maturing that makes an individual capable of sexual reproduction. Adolescence is not universal. In many preindustrial societies, young people go directly from childhood to adulthood once they have taken part in formal ceremonies known as puberty rites. The experiences of adolescence are not the same for everyone. However, five characteristics generally apply to all adolescents. These five characteristics are biological growth and development, an undefined status, increased decision making, increased pressures, and the search for self. Puberty is the one aspect of adolescence that is found in every society. Puberty is universal because it is biological rather than cultural in origin. Our society’s expectations for children are quite clear. The expectations for adults are also known. The adolescent expectations are often vague, however. While some adults treat adolescents as children, others treat them as adults. It is often difficult for adolescents to determine their status. Young children have most of their decisions made for them by adults. When children reach adolescence, they must make many of their own decisions. Adolescents are faced with pressure from many sources like parents and other teens. Adolescents are mature enough to think about themselves and about what they want out of life. Most teens can sort through their values and decide what things are really important to them. Anticipatory Socialization involves learning the rights, obligations, and expectations of a role to prepare for assuming that role in the future.
Dating is the meeting of people as a romantic engagement, is most commonly found in societies that allow individuals to choose their own marriage partners. Courtship is the interaction between young unmarried men and women. Homogamy is the tendency of individuals to marry people who have social characteristics similar to their own. Dating serves several important functions in adolescence. It is a form of entertainment, mechanism for socialization, fulfills certain basic psychological needs such as conservation, companionship, and understanding, helps individuals attain status, finally in the later stages of dating, spouse selection becomes an important issue. Dating patterns, like dating relationships, can be viewed as a continuum. Traditional dating patterns can still be found in small towns and rural areas of the united states. Dating behavior was quite ritualized. Particularly in the early stages of a relationship, dates revolved around set activities such as going to movies or sporting events. If a couple continued to date casually over a period of time, the relationship often developed into one of steady dating. No set stages of dating, in addition, there is now greater equality in dating. This tendency toward flexibility reveals some important differences between traditional and contemporary dating patterns. Courting buggy are horse-drawn carriages.
Adolescence can be a turbulent and perplexing time of life. As with so many other social phenomena, the norms governing sexual behavior vary widely from society to society.
Survey data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that 29 percent of unmarried American females between the ages of 15 and 19 were sexually active in 1970. Social scientists have developed a number of explanations for why adolescents engage in sexual activity. Sexual activity has consequences. For teenagers, these consequences are often negative. Drugs are any substance that changes mood, behavior, or consciousness. In recent years, the public has become increasingly alarmed over the social consequences of drug abuse. Having friends who regularly engage in drug use, having social and academic adjustment problems, and living in a hostile and rejecting family setting are influences on teenage drug use. The social problems of teenage drug and alcohol abuse are contributing factors to another serious adolescent problem. The rate of suicide among young people in the United States has more than doubled in the past three decades. Social integration is the degree of attachment people have to social groups or to society as a whole. As teenagers move from the role of child to that of adult, they are faced with new freedoms as well as new restrictions.