Health Sciences 2711A/B Lecture Notes - Puberty, Social Change

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HS 2700A
Tutorial Section 002
November 23, 2009
Adolescence: The transition between childhood and adulthood
!In most cases, adolescence is always defined as puberty; the physical changes a person’s
body undergoes around 12-16 years old. Hormonal, height, weight, and body composition
changes take place within every person’s body. Puberty with respect to biological changes is
universal and is an normative age-graded influence. In some cases, the time puberty happens
shifts into being early or coming later with the influence of different factors such as cultural,
psychological, and environmental factors. Some of these factors include growing up in a low
SES neighbourhood, low educational attainment, and one’s ethnicity. Despite all these factors,
puberty is unavoidable and is a completely normal time in a human being’s lifespan. As critical
thinkers, we need to open our minds and not only associate puberty with physical changes, as
social and emotional changes take place during the adolescent period in one’s life.
!Social development accounts for a majority part of adolescent change. Changes in roles
and responsibilities evolve and a sense of self-autonomy and independence is formed. In most
cases, teenagers are trusted more by their parents and peers and are given more responsibilities.
Sometimes it means getting a later curfew, more household chores, or even if it means getting a
part-time job to save money. Self-autonomy increases as adolescents begin to trust themselves
more when it comes to decision-making. Moreover, long-term relationships start to form.
Adolescents usually find their long-term best friends and develop relationship skills that are
based on trust and honesty. On the other hand in some cultures, teenagers do not get the full
adolescent experience due to cultural values and teen pregnancy. A number of tribal and
aboriginal communties/cultures do not acknowledge the transition from childhood to adulthood.
Many children in these cultures assume adult responsibilities right away once they hit a certain
age. Children are expected to quit school after a certain grade and are directed towards helping
out the family with earning income. With teen pregnancy, adolescent mothers and fathers are
forced to adopt adult responsibilities as they have to provide for their child. Most of teen parents
do not graduate and get jobs to provide for their new family. Role-confusion is apparent as teen
parents feel like they are adults with their new family, but can still be treated as children by their
parents and the school. Emotional development is as much important as social and physical
development within adolescents. Self-esteem escalates most of the time for adolescents as they
become more capable and competent to accomplish certain tasks. According to Maslow’s
hierarchy of needs, love and belonging needs to be achieved before one reaches self-
actualization. Adolescents begin to find their “identity” as they form their values and morals as
they decide who they are and where they belong, whether it many be in a varsity team or a social
clique. They also decide what is important to them and begin to develop goals when it comes to
being healthy and staying fit. In addition, they also begin to explore their sexual needs and
orientation as they open their minds into different challenges and experiences.
!Whether it may be a physical, emotional, or social change, all of these factors are equally
important and make up the very elements of adolescence; the transition from childhood to
adulthood. Adolescence is a very crucial part in everyone’s lives as it shapes a person to who
they are today. Without the transition, we would lead dysfunctional and confused lives. A proper
adolescent life is needed in order for us to transform into self-fulfilled and contended human
beings.