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Adolescence: Risk, Identity and Transition Essay

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Updated: Jul 22nd, 2020


Adolescence is a stage of life where a person experiences mental and physical changes which occur between puberty and adulthood. These people are usually aged 13 to 19 years and most crave peer approval. This whets their appetite for taking risks and more often than not, they engage in activities like tobacco use, drug and alcohol abuse, gang violence and other risky behaviors. (Berger, 2009)

Teenage at Risk Behavior

A risk behavior many teenagers engage in is alcohol and drug abuse. It is worth noting that there is sufficient evidence to show that adolescents get addicted to substances faster than adults. Secondly, substance abuse related problems are experienced by up to 33 percent of adolescents. Individuality, especially in America blinds close relatives and family members until they are confronted by the school administration or law enforcement yet this problem is strongly influenced by family interaction. (Brent, 2011) An adolescent with an alcohol or drug problem will have certain features.

The commonest indicator is usually a drop in school performance accompanied by the tendency to miss classes. He or she will change to another peer group, probably one that does not engage in extracurricular activities and his or her source of income will more often than not be unknown. More specific indicators will be changes in their physique, for instance bloodshot eyes, weight loss, lapses in memory, slurred speech or problems with motor co-ordination. (Langfield, 2004)These are danger signs that should alert any guardian. The bigger question is; what is the problem?

Usually, teenagers are subject to peer pressure, misleading advertisements and because of poor judgment they engage in risky behavior. It is however important to note that in many cases, the problem is right at home. Some family members act as enablers. This means that they save the abuser from the consequences of abuse by making excuses for their absence or lateness. Some members act as scapegoats drawing attention away from the real problem child, the one abusing drugs and alcohol. Some of the abusers are lost in their homes. This means that they never cause a problem and are relatively invisible thus changes in behavior will go unnoticed.

All these roles are played by different family members, a situation which could allow an abuse problem to thrive. There are several methods that can be applied to resolve drug and alcohol abuse. First is therapy, which could be personal or involve the family. Treating the family is essential in that it prevents the person from falling back into old destructive habits. Preventing abuse would go a long way in curbing this problem and this can be accomplished by restricting access to drugs and alcohol, educating adolescents on the harmful effects of substance abuse and creating avenues where teenagers can freely express themselves.

Ego and Ethnic Identity Theories

Identity formation is something adolescents treasure because it enables them to develop a sense of unification which provides meaning and direction in their lives. This makes adolescence a vital stage of human development where a person explores his or her identity and constructs his or her reality. An individual that fails to develop an identity is often confused and suffers psychological distress which may be seen through an increasing pattern of distressed thinking, self-doubt and rebellion against authority, especially parents. (Kendra, 2011)

Cultural identity, especially in a multicultural setting enables people to define themselves because different cultures have different explanations for what individuality means or how different social situations are dealt with. There are different theoretical perspectives that define identity and ego. The first is individualism and collectivism. This implies that shared values in a social group contribute a lot to identity development. There is a downside to this perspective is that it ignores the diversity in culture and differences among peers. The second perspective is the importance of ecological systems.

This implies that an individual’s identity is shaped by his or her interaction with the environment. This is done through social interaction or physical contexts and these help a person build his or her cultural identity. The third perspective is the cultural-ecological influence. This means that a person’s identity is influenced by ethnicity, cultural and historical contexts. Another perspective is the social identity which cannot only be created by interacting socially but can be changed by different social situations. This perspective also proves that people can create situations that favor their views by being persistent. All these factors are vital to the development of an identity which as we have already established is a vital part of human development.

Transition From School to Work

Many young people experience difficulties as they transition from school to work and some move from one job to the next for many years before they finally settle. There is a strong link between education and employment. In school, students learn many skills like punctuality, the ability to follow directions and dependability. (Yates, 2005) The main problem however is that most of these youth have no experience with the real world and hence find it difficult to settle in a specific occupation. At the same time, employers are not aware of the youths’ skills and most use entry level-jobs to check the potential in an employee.

College graduates on the other hand are more specific about their job requirements and are usually well-informed about the opportunities available in their field. Employers seeking college graduates usually have a greater understanding of their capabilities, probably because they have to pay these graduates higher wages. (Yates, 2005) Individuals seeking employment always strive to find the perfect match but the chance of this happening is reduced over time and most people just settle in whatever job they are handling at the moment. This is worsened when an employee develops specific skills which may not be valued by another employer. With these facts in mind it is clear that schooling and the choices made in school decide how easily an individual will transition from school to work. (Yates, 2005)

In conclusion, the teenage experience is a stage in life where people are susceptible and could easily fall victim to risky behavior like substance abuse or unsafe sex. These adolescents can however be helped to overcome the challenges through counseling and listening. During adolescence, people also tend to form their identity. They define themselves and what they believe in and this aids in their development and transformation into adulthood. As these teenagers become adults and get integrated into the real world they need jobs. The type of job a person gets is highly dependent on their level of schooling and what they did while at school. All these factors contribute to the development of a complete and independent individual.

Reference List

Berger, K. S. (2009). The developing person: Through childhood and adolescence (8th ed.). New York, NY: Worth Publishers.

Brent V. N., Troy H. P., MacDonald D. C. (2011) Web.

Kendra C. (2011) Web.

Langfield P. A., Maclntyre M., Turner J. G. (2004) Adolescent alcohol and drug abuse. Web.

Yates A. J. (2005) The transition from school to work: Education and work experiences. Web.

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