Chapter 6

The Adolescent in Society


Adolescents can be defined as the period between childhood and the beginning of adulthood.

  • Adolescence is not universal, in some pre-industrial societies, young people go straight from childhood to adulthood.
  • School, exclusion of youth from the labor force, and the development of the juvenile-justice system have been important in the development of adolescence as a distinct life stage in the United States.
  • Biological growth and development, undefined status, increased decision making, increased pressure, and the search for self are five characteristics that generally apply to all adolescents.


  • Dating, or the meeting of people as a romantic engagement, is most commonly found in societies that allows individuals to choose their own marriage partners.
  • Courtship was the interaction between young unmarried men and women prior to the rise of dating.
  • The rise of industrialization, economic freedom, free public secondary education, and telephones and automobiles contributed to the rise of dating.
  • Traditional Dating Patterns - typical characteristics of dating during the 1940s and 1950s
  • Contemporary Dating Patterns - present day characteristics

Teenage Drug Use

  • The United States has the highest rate of drug use among adolescents of any industrialized country.

Social Scientists believe that the following factors are why teenagers regularly do drugs;
  • having friends who regularly engage in drug use
  • having social and academic adjustment problems
  • living in a hostile and rejecting family setting