Psychology, Department of


Document Type


Date of this Version

January 1993


Published in Early Adolescence: Perspectives on Research, Policy, and Intervention. Publishers: Hillsdale, NJ, & London, 1993. Pp. 311–314. Copyright © 1993 Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. Used by permission.


Adolescence today is broadly perceived as a more difficult and dangerous period than in previous decades. Those holding this view point to increases in teenage pregnancy and childbearing, sexually transmitted diseases, alcohol abuse, drug addiction, juvenile arrests, depression, and suicide as indicators of changing conditions. Although uncommon in childhood, these problems increase in early adolescence, and they can lead to greater likelihood of negative developmental trajectories. Because young adolescents are at the age when these issues are surfacing, they are a particularly important target group for interventions designed to prevent or delay the onset of negative behavior patterns (Crockett & Petersen, in press). Preventive interventions targeting older youth often start too late, after the onset of the behavior they are designed to prevent. Early adolescence is a good time to intervene, before behavior patterns solidify, increasing the risks of more serious problems.