inforce the image that youth are a scary, troubled lot. As discussed in the concluding section, this problem-focused approach is endemic to American society, driven largely by existing program funds, which are categorical in nature and may be influenced by policies that are often inconsistent and contradictory.
Third, the connections among adolescent behaviors and the context in which they occur is missing. Thus, although adolescent problem behaviors tend to cluster, this report is structured in such a way as to treat the various problems as if they were separate from one another. While this report provides an extensive review of the various social contexts and settings that potentially influence adolescent development—such as family, community, schools, the media—there is little attention to the links between these contexts. There is also little attention to the psychological worlds of adolescents and the ways that teenagers construct and interpret the developmental changes they are experiencing, and, therefore, how the influence of social settings is mediated by psychological and cognitive processes.
In writing this report, the forum has learned a good deal about what questions have been asked about adolescents and what research has contributed to the answers. The forum has also learned what questions have not been asked and so where new efforts may be most needed. Furthermore, very recent data show evidence of an exciting and promising reversal of some trends. For example, studies suggest that an increasing number of adolescents are using condoms during sexual intercourse, and federal statistics suggest decreasing rates of unintended pregnancies among teenagers. We discuss some of these recent trends in the concluding section.