Last Updated 25 May 2020

Adolescence is a fascinating time of life

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Adolescence is a phase of life that begins with the self-discovery of oneself and relationship with the world outside. It is a phase when children are finding themselves entered into adult life surrounded by turbulence and stress already stored for them. Freud captured the stage of adolescence in its delimited fascicule when he evoked; “Adolescence is fraught with internal struggle. Upon entering the ‘genital’ phase of adolescence, the child is bombarded with instinctual impulses that disrupt this balance.

The ego is torn between the strong impulses of the id and the restrictions of the superego. This conflict makes adolescence a time of tremendous stress and turmoil”. (Recapp Online) The youths are swayed by the waves of society’s upheavals and parental hypocritical approaches towards their lives, making them to question their own identity. Jeffrey Jensen Arnett refers adolescence to as Emerging Adulthood where adolescents are slowly and gradually moving towards adulthood. It is a time when they are free from any social obligations and expectations and find themselves independent wanting to break from all bondages. It was in February 2008, court prosecuted 15 years old girl in an aiding and abetting manslaughter by filming happy slapping attack whereby a man was succumbed to death. Mr. Waterhouse was given punches and kicking by two youths 19, and a 17-year-old youth in Keighley, West Yorkshire, in the month of September 2007.

Though the man was able to take a walk back to his flat but soon died. All the youths admitted to the crime and the girl pleaded guilty for becoming part of this atrocious act of theirs. (Porter, ABC News Online, 2006) Happy slapping incident has become quite common among youths, formerly originated from South London in 2004. The victims are hit, punched and kicked and all the actions are recorded by youths in their mobile phones or put up on the net to be enjoyed later. The trend of indulging in such violent behaviors have become quite common as revealed by the New South Wales Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research. The Bureau’s director, Don Weatherburn reported saying that around 10 to 14 years old adolescents had become the cause of the serious concern for the law enforcement agencies.

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There was an abrupt rise of incidents from 175 per 100,000 population in 1995 to 487 in 2004. (Porter, ABC News Online, 2006) The above incident clearly shows girls more inclined towards violent behavior. Her mother has put all the blame on the binge drinking which has become very common among youngsters in Britain-a socio cultural compulsion for youths. But the story above lacks clear explanation of what motivated a girl to become a part of the crime. Was it due to drinking or a trend or some other psychological or social factor? Pearson linked the girl’s violent behavior to the social problem faced by them. She says, “Girls don't want to be endlessly told that they're nothing but sex objects with low self-esteem...; they are rejecting victimhood.” (Pearson, 1997) In the process of resisting sexism, girls have unfortunately “gotten hip.” (Pearson, 1997) Several studies have been conducted and several approaches applied to understand the increasing trend of the violent behavior among girls and Theories of Aggressive behavior is one among them putting forward the psychoanalytic aspect to the behavior problems among girls.

News reported by April Simpson, in Boston Globe on 30th January 2007, changed our whole conception of how we perceive youth’s behavior. On one hand, adolescent behavior plunges us into the thought and on the other hand, the above news report shatters this myth. Many youths have proved themselves as responsible citizens and take violent behavior as a blotch on the society. Some youths from Boston, tired of violent behavior took initiative of starting a process of regular meetings with the police to bring law and order problems and several other issues concerning youths to the notice of Police and other city officials. In first ever meeting at the Tobin-Mission Hill Community Center, around dozen students participated and discussed their problems and the measures to control crimes with Thomas M. Menino, Mayor, State Representative Jeffrey Sanchez, Councilor Michael P. Ross, and area police officers. (Simpson, 2007) From then on, these meetings became a routine affair.

Not just with officers concerned they also held the meetings among themselves to sort out measures to control violence they had been witnessing quite often in their neighborhood. This story does show youths shouldering responsibility to create conducive environment in their locality but this story does not show to what extent they have tried to address the problems and come out with the possible solutions and how far these youths were successful in their mission? Both these stories reflect contrasting shades of youth’s behavior. In the story above, where girls are too demonstrating behavior not conducive for them shows gravity of the situation our youths have involved themselves.

Looking at the current social and economic problem, it is not surprising to see youths especially girls being carried away by the lure of status and societal position and bullying and brawling on roads along-with their mail counterparts. But it is also true their show of cat fighting is not new, and the main culprit is their role model in movie or TV soap, known as Script theory. As these are scripts only that create impressionable image of brawling girls. For e.g. Power-puff girls defeating their archenemy, Mojo Jojo, with hitting and kicking increases the likelihood that girls will also imitate them and see the bullying and aggressiveness as a means to resolve their problems. (Kirsh, 2006) Criminologists also state the exposure to violence at homes as the biggest reason for the youths especially girls to show their aggressive attitude.

Lisa Broidy and Robert Agnew also point to the failed relationships as biggest crises in the lives of girls. These girls show their repressed feelings and grievances by shouting, yelling, hitting and abusing, in their own words, “Abusive and failed relationships are a major source of strain in the lives of many female offenders.” (Chesney-Lind & Pasko, 2004) For guys, violence becomes a means to show their macho power among their peers. Though socio and economic factors too count as the reason behind their adapting to the aggressive behavior but it is more of their hurt ego, which immerses in the form of violence. Many psychologists termed their criminal tendency towards Social-information-processing theory.

Theory posits the view that “Youths engage in these mental processes over and over in real time during social interactions and that within particular types of situations, individuals develop characteristic patterns of processing cues at each step in the model. These patterns form the basis of psychopathologic tendencies”. (Psychiatry Health SE.com, Online) For e.g. if provoked, youths may resort to cues such as threats, show hostile intentions to others and adopt aggressiveness skillfully and successfully, which implies that they are more prone to adopt conduct disorder. It is the community programs and initiatives as demonstrated by the youths from Boston that could make some difference in the long run in the lives of youths prone to violence. Dr Toni Makkai, the Director of the Australian Institute of Criminology, called for more and more intervention programs to support young mothers and give them knowledge and skills to foster in their children their importance towards society, address their problems with love and bring them into the environment of friendliness and care. (Porter, ABC News Online, 2006)

WORKS CITED

Arnett Jensen. 2006. Adolescence and Emerging Adulthood, 3rd edition, Prentice Hall. Chesney-Lind, M & Pasko, L. 2004. Girls, Women, and Crime: Selected Readings. Sage Publications. Kirsh, S. J. 2006. Children, Adolescents, and Media Violence: A Critical Look At Research. California & London: Sage Publications. Pearson, P. 1997. You're so cute when you're mad. The Globe and Mail. 29 November, p. D3. Porter, B. (ABC News Online) 2006. PM - NSW youth crime on the rise. Retrieved on April 6, 2008. Psychiatry.HealthSE.com. 2004-2005. Social-Information-Processing Theory. Recapp. Developmental Theories. Retrieved on April 6, 2008 from W.W.W:  HYPERLINK http://www.etr.org/recapp/theories/AdolescentDevelopment/developmentalTheories.htm http://www.etr.org/recapp/theories/AdolescentDevelopment/developmentalTheories.htm Simpson, A. (Boston Globe) Teens reach out for help against violence. Retrieved

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