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Theories & Approaches

All Theories & Approaches

Adolescent Development

by Kathryn Pierno

Welcome to Adolescent Development! In this section, you will find the following:


The hallmark of adolescence is change. The obvious physical changes that we associate with adolescence are as dramatic as those seen in a growing infant. Yet physical growth is only a fraction of the changes that adolescents experience. They are also changing cognitively, emotionally, socially, and behaviorally.

The course of these changes and their outcomes depends very much on social factors in the lives of the adolescents. The influences of family, culture and society are all important in shaping their journey to adulthood. In fact, many of the factors known to help protect young people from developing problems (e.g., alcohol and drug abuse, early intercourse, teen pregnancy and violent behavior) are supports that could potentially be provided by families and community resources.

Understanding adolescent development — that is, how young people are changing physically, cognitively, socially, emotionally and behaviorally — is important in the design and implementation of effective adolescent pregnancy prevention programs. Understanding adolescent development will help educators in selecting the content, approach, pedagogy and timing of the programs they implement.


Next: An Overview of Adolescent Development>>

Kathryn Pierno is a Ph.D. candidate in molecular pathology. She has worked as a biochemist conducting cancer research at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, CA. She has taught chemistry at UC Santa Cruz and cell biology at Cabrillo College. She is currently the middle school science teacher at Gateway School in Santa Cruz, CA.