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Lecture 5

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Child and Youth Studies
Rebecca Raby

CHYS 1F90 Lecture 5 Adolescence: Traditional Ways we Think About Teens  Increased risk taking o Alcohol o Drugs o Delinquency o Etc  Highly emotional  Decision making  Struggle with parents Stats  13,000 adolescents deaths each year o 70% of these are motor vehicle, accidental, homicide, etc.  72% of teens have used alcohol  44% have tried smoking  10% have tried illicit drugs  13% have driven under the influence  46% have had sex o 34% had unprotected sex  Results from the 2005 National Youth Risk Behaviour Survey (YRBS) show that adolescents engage in behaviours that increase their likelihood of death by: o Driving a vehicle after drinking or without a seat belt o Carrying weapons o Using illegal substances o Engaging in unprotected sex resulting in unintended pregnancies and STDs, including HIV infection  Looking toward the short-term benefits rather than the long term consequences Why does this occur? Increased Emotional Reactivity Nathan Kotylak  Water polo  Straight A  Went to the seventh game of the playoffs –riot o Caught on tape -> setting a cop car on fire, blows it up o Got caught because it was on youtube -> got charged  For reason I can’t explain … I engaged in this behaviour The Case of Omar Khadr  Got involved in Afghanistan and got into a situation where he was working with a terrorist CHYS 1F90 Lecture 5  Built and launched an IED into a truck killing an American soldier  He was 15  Arrested and detained at Guantanamo since then  Interrogated and repeatedly for years The Boys’ Defence Council  Were these boys criminally culpable at the time of the event? Look to the Science of Adolescence BRAIN STRUCTURES Saving the Best for Last  Structures in our brain that allow us to process -> thinking part of our brain  The Cortex makes up 85% of our brain  Cortex is responsible for decision making, reasoning, etc.  Massive development between 13 and 20  Not fully developed until early 20s Frontal Lobe  Executive functions o Planning o Decision making o Self-regulation o Consequences  Not developed fully until early 20s Why all the “Drama”  Adults use their pre-frontal cortex when making decisions (fMRI)  Teens ‘ pre-frontal cortex is not yet developed  So, teen brains use the “amygdala” when making decisions (fMRI)  The amygdala controls emotions [middle of the brain towards the brain stem] o Adolescents make decisions use emotional decisions rather than critical thinking Living on the Edge! – Brain Chemicals  Serotonin and Dopamine are fluctuating and peaking o Serotonin has a “calming effect” that controls impulse levels o Dopamine has a “feel good” effect that can inhibit decision making CHYS 1F90 Lecture 5 Myelination  Fatty tissue covering axons of neurons  Strengthens neural connections  Neurons in frontal lobe are not fully myelinated until late adolescence Conclusion  The human brain does not settle into its mature adult form until after the adolescent years  Due to neurological developmental patterns tends are prone to: o Short-sighted decision making o Emotional over-reactivity o Etc The Boys’ Defence Council  Heightened risk taking (like Nathan) is the product of an easily aroused reward system and an immature self-regulatory system [
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