FIGURE 2-1 Number of youth ages 10–24 selected years, 1950–1990, and projected, 2000–2050.  SOURCE: Data from Bureau of the Census (1965, 1974, 1982, 1996, 1999).

tion has steadily decreased ever since and is projected to continue to have a downward trend through the year 2050 (Figure 2-2). In 1993, more than one-third of the population of adolescents ages 10 to 19 were Hispanic or nonwhite. Black children were the largest minority population prior to 1997, but now their numbers are slightly superseded by Hispanic children (each making up about 15 percent of the total child population). The U.S. Bureau of Census is estimating that by the year 2020, more than one in five U.S. children will be Hispanic. The Asian population will also continue its rapid increase, from 4 to 6 percent by the year 2020. This rapid rise in racial and ethnic diversity in the United States is expected to continue through the coming decades.


Adolescence is one of the most fascinating and complex transitions in the life span: a time of accelerated growth and change, second only to infancy; a time of expanding horizons, self-discovery, and emerging independence; a time of metamorphosis from childhood to adulthood. Its begin-

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