Changing perspectives on childhood and adolescenceThe idea that children go through a developmental stage called 'adolescence' before reaching adulthood is a relatively new concept.
- Use of children in the workforce in the nineteenth century meant that children aged as young as six were rapidly introduced into an adult world.
- In the late 1800s, schooling was mainly targeted towards young children.
- Most working class children over 13 were sent into the adult world of the labour market.
- In the 1940s the school leaving age was extended to 15 as an intervention to prevent juvenile delinquency and to clear the streets of young people (Bessant et al., 1998).
The concept of adolescence is therefore socially constructed and is a relatively new phenomenon.
Adolescence will continue to change and develop according to the values, beliefs and expectations of families, communities, governments and global trends.
Brainstorm/group activityAsk learners to discuss the following statement in groups and write down three major difficulties.
Question - The Western concept of adolescence may create difficulties for young people from different cultural backgrounds. Comment on this statement.