There are two main sections in this volume. The first section explores adolescents' interactions with several components of their social ecology. Their interpersonal exchanges with peers, including romantic relationships, their engagement with the world of work, and their relationship with parents are discussed. Consistent with a developmental ...
There are two main sections in this volume. The first section explores adolescents' interactions with several components of their social ecology. Their interpersonal exchanges with peers, including romantic relationships, their engagement with the world of work, and their relationship with parents are discussed. Consistent with a developmental contextual view of adolescence, the articles illustrate that social interactions are shaped by the relationships between the adolescent's characteristics of individuality and the specific features of his or her social context. For example, in establishing friendships, in negotiating linkages between peers and parents, in coping with social stressors, in the development of their sexuality, or in launching their engagement with work and careers youth bring particular cognitive, emotional, behavioral, and personality attributes to a social context also characterized by the presence of particular types of peer groups, institutional structures, socioeconomic resources, cultural patterns, and physical ecological attributes. Understanding the difference developments, both positive and negative, that derive from adolescents' interactions in their social-world requires a focus on the relations between these specific characteristics of the individual and his or her context. The second section discusses how societal institutions and, as well, public policies and intervention programs, may foster positive youth development. These articles demonstrate how an integration of basic and applied research knowledge can be used to inform policy and programs for youth. The articles provide examples of the importance of the individual-context relationships discussedin the first section. The articles demonstrate how the multiple contexts of adolescents may be structured in order to enhance the likelihood of promoting positive youth development while, simultaneously, decreasing the risks linked to problem behaviors. A consistent theme in these articles is the need to match features of the policies or programs designed for either the prevention of negative behavior of for the promotion of positive behavior with the specific and unique needs of the targeted population of adolescents. Clearly, the message across the volume is one of hope about the possibility of enriching the lives of adolescents through promoting systematic interpersonal and institutional relations that meet the developing needs of diverse youth. Amid the enormous changes associated with this period of adolescence, and in the face of the great variability in both positive and negative dimensions of youth behavior, there is the potential that policies and programs can improve the life chances and enhance the development of all adolescents. This volume affords the opportunity to witness how theory informs practice and how practice informs theory and research. The volume suggests that, in many instances, we know what to do to serve adolescents. It leaves us with the issues of whether we have the will to do it.
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