The Promise of Adolescence: Realizing Opportunity for All Youth
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Over the past several decades, research has fundamentally changed our understanding of how adolescents—young people ages 10 to 25—develop, grow, and learn. Changes in brain structure and function (such as the strengthening of connections within and between brain regions and the pruning away of unused connections) that occur during adolescence affords young people a remarkable capacity to learn, adapt to changes, and explore their own creativity. Adolescent brains are specially tailored to meet the needs of this stage of life, allowing them to explore new environments and build new relationships with the world and people around them.
But what does our new understanding mean for society? How can we create the kinds of settings and supports that allow adolescents to thrive and make meaningful contributions to the world around them?
A positive pathway into a thriving adulthood is not forged by adolescents alone. Instead, it requires alignment between the strengths of adolescents, like their increased independence, flexible problem solving skills, and openness to new experiences, with resources available in their environments, including access to stable housing and nutritious foods as well as positive social interactions and relationships with peers and adults.
There is an urgent need to reimagine and redesign the systems and settings that adolescents most frequently encounter, including the education, health, justice, and child welfare systems. By embracing a collective responsibility to build systems that account for the new knowledge we have acquired, we can ensure that millions of young people flourish and can impact society for the better.
Tweet directly from the links below or copy/paste the following text into your Twitter account.
1. Tweet! Report from @theNASEM identifies opportunities to reimagine and redesign the education, health, child welfare, and justice sectors to better support young people. www.nap.edu/adolescence #PromiseofYouth
2. Tweet! Changes in brain structure and connectivity during adolescence give youth opportunities for positive, life-shaping development, and healing from past adversity. www.nap.edu/adolescence #PromiseofYouth
3. Tweet! During adolescence, young people learn how to make decisions and take responsibility for themselves. While adults must respect adolescents’ emerging independence, they must also provide support to make growth possible. www.nap.edu/adolescence #PromiseofYouth
4. Tweet! Forming personal identity is a hallmark of adolescence. To help young people feel comfortable with themselves, youth-serving organizations must be culturally sensitive and attuned to the needs of the young people they serve. www.nap.edu/adolescence #PromiseofYouth
5. Tweet! Supportive relationships with adults (like teachers, parents, and mentors) are critical for fostering positive outcomes for adolescents. These supportive relationships are as important for adolescents as they are for young children. www.nap.edu/adolescence #PromiseofYouth
6. Tweet! Adolescent brains are fit to prepare young people to meet new life challenges. By exploring new environments and building relationships with others, adolescents build skills and connections that are central to a successful adulthood. www.nap.edu/adolescence #PromiseofYouth
7. Tweet! The U.S. education system was built for an earlier era. To meet the needs of modern adolescents, schools must become more culturally competent, promote non-academic skill building, and help young people navigate life opportunities. www.nap.edu/adolescence #PromiseofYouth
8. Tweet! The U.S. healthcare system must help adolescents navigate the system independently and provide services that are culturally informed and attentive to their needs. www.nap.edu/adolescence #PromiseofYouth
9. Tweet! Relative to young children, adolescents have advanced decision-making skills and can better seek solutions right for them. Adolescents in child welfare systems need services that allow them to be partners in their own life decisions. www.nap.edu/adolescence #PromiseofYouth
10. Tweet! Over time, research has changed our understanding of how adolescents develop, grow and learn. There is unprecedented opportunity to redesign the systems (education, health, justice, and child welfare) that adolescents most frequently encounter. www.nap.edu/adolescence #PromiseofYouth
11. Tweet! Practices and policies that support adolescents must leverage the promise of this life stage to ensure all young people have opportunities to thrive. www.nap.edu/adolescence #PromiseofYouth
12. Tweet! Adolescence offers great promise: the changes in brain structure and connectivity that occur during this time present young people with opportunities for positive, life-shaping development, and for recovery from past adversity. www.nap.edu/adolescence #PromiseofYouth
13. Tweet! The promise of adolescence can be reduced by economic, social, and structural disadvantage, and by racism, bias, and discrimination. These pressures “get under the skin” and adversely affect the brain and body during this vital developmental stage. www.nap.edu/adolescence #PromiseofYouth #PromoteHealthEquity
14. Tweet! To help young people feel comfortable with themselves, youth-serving systems and organizations must be culturally sensitive and attuned to the diverse needs of the young people they serve. www.nap.edu/adolescence #PromiseofYouth
15. Tweet! Our society has a collective responsibility to build systems and enact policies that help young people thrive. By embracing this responsibility, we can ensure that all young people can impact the world for the better. www.nap.edu/adolescence #PromiseofYouth #PromoteHealthEquity
1. Research has fundamentally changed our understanding of how adolescents—young people ages 10 to 25—develop, grow, and learn. But what does our new understanding mean for society? How can we create the kinds of settings and supports that allow adolescents to thrive and make meaningful contributions to the world around them?
A new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine provides recommendations for policy and practice to better support young people. By embracing a collective responsibility to build systems that account for the new knowledge we have acquired, we can ensure that millions of young people flourish and can impact society for the better. Learn more: www.nap.edu/adolescence
2. Adolescence—beginning with the onset of puberty and ending in the mid-20s—is a critical period of development during which key areas of the brain mature and develop. Because adolescents comprise nearly one-fourth of the entire U.S. population, the nation needs policies and practices that will better leverage these developmental opportunities to harness the promise of adolescence—rather than focusing on containing its risks.
A new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine sheds light on how health care, education, justice, and child welfare systems can ensure that all adolescents can thrive. Read the report recommendations: www.nap.edu/adolescence
3. It’s time to reimagine and redesign the systems and settings that adolescents most frequently encounter. Where can we start? New report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine identifies key changes for health care, education, justice, and child welfare in order to ensure that millions of young people flourish and can impact society for the better. www.nap.edu/adolescence
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