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Adolescents at RiskPrevalence and Prevention$
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Joy G. Dryfoos

Print publication date: 1992

Print ISBN-13: 9780195072686

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780195072686.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 19 October 2021

The Setting: A Description of Adolescents in the United States

The Setting: A Description of Adolescents in the United States

(p.15) 2 The Setting: A Description of Adolescents in the United States
Adolescents at Risk

Joy G. Dryfoos

Oxford University Press

Before problem behaviors are examined in detail, it is important to understand the current status of American youth and what comprises so-called “normative” behaviors. It is not sufficient to describe the situation only in aggregate terms; there are such vastly different life scripts that are being experienced by the subgroups in this complex and diverse society. Many books on adolescents solve this problem by presenting an array of vignettes from children’s lives with detailed accounts of individuals and quotations from them. This makes more interesting reading than statistics, but vignettes are not necessarily generalizable to the whole society. For an overview of the “setting,” describing the youth population and the social and economic characteristics of various subpopulations, we turn largely to census data. For a look at health status, we rely on national health statistics. However, to gain an understanding of adolescent developmental issues, different kinds of information are required. For these insights, the works of social and behavioral scientists based on small samples of subjects and personal observations will be explored. In 1987, there were about 28 million 10- to 17-year-olds in the United States, with half a million more boys than girls. More males are born than females, but the sex ratio reverses as populations grow older. This becomes an important factor when individuals reach the age of marriage (about 23 for females and 25 for males) because it controls the pool of partners, a particular problem for marriage-age black females, who outnumber marriage-age black males. The number of young people will increase over the next decade by about 10 percent because the number of births has increased every year since 1973, when the current 15-year-olds were born. One way to understand the expected change is to compare the number of births in 1986, almost 3.76 million, with the number in 1973, 3.13 million. By the year 2000, babies born in 1986 will be 14 years old, right in the center of our population of interest. This group will be enlarged by immigrants as well as by increased numbers of births.

Keywords:   Biological change, Cognitive capacity, Death rate, Employment rates, Firearms, Handguns, Incest, Labor force, Menarche, Normative behaviors

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