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Community Programs to Promote Youth Development
Career-related experiences in a variety of occupational settings and career planning activities that:
Help them begin to focus their educational and career goals in ways more directly related to their emerging personal identities.
We say more about the issue of developmentally appropriate programming in Chapters 3 and 4. We now turn to a more specific discussion of developmental changes during the adolescent years.
A complete review of the biological changes associated with puberty is beyond the scope of this report, but, given the centrality of these changes, it is important to provide a brief overview (see Adams et al., 1989; Brooks-Gunn and Reiter, 1990; Brooks-Gunn et al., 1994; Buchanan et al., 1992; Caspi et al., 1993; National Research Council, 1999a). As a result of the activation of the hormones controlling pubertal development, most children undergo a growth spurt, develop primary and secondary sex characteristics, become fertile, and experience increased sexual libido during early adolescence. Recently researchers have studied exactly how the hormonal changes occurring at early adolescence (ages 9 to 13) relate to changes in behavior (e.g., see Buchanan et al., 1992; Petersen and Taylor, 1980). There is some evidence for direct effects of hormones on such behaviors as aggression, heightened sexual feelings, and mood swings (e.g., Albert et al., 1993; Brooks-Gunn et al., 1994; Buchanan et al., 1992; Caspi and Moffitt, 1991; Olweus et al., 1988; Sussman et al., 1987; Udry et al., 1986). However, these relations are quite complex, with hormones and other biological systems interacting in complex ways with both social behavior and genetic predispositions to influence behaviors; the direct effects of hormones are often overridden by social experiences (e.g., see Kendler and Karkowski-Shuman, 1997; Haggerty et al., 1994a; Robins and Robertson, 1998; Silberg et al., in press). To make matters even more complex, behaviors and experience, in turn, influence the hormonal systems in quite complex ways, including even the timing of the onset of menarche (Goodyer, 1997; Graber et al., 1995).
Because the hormonal changes are most dramatic and more irregular during the early adolescent period, some developmental scientists have suggested that young adolescents are particularly susceptible to these