Adolescence is a transition period from childhood to adulthood, typically spanning approximately from 12 to 18 years of age. Development during adolescence involves attaining physical and sexual maturity, along with increased complexity of thought and social behavior. Understanding adolescent development is critical for the development of policy and practice related to secondary education. This entry discusses the history of the construct of adolescence, developmental contexts and tasks of adolescence, the stages of adolescence, and major domains of adolescent development.


The notion of a distinct developmental stage between childhood and adulthood is a relatively new concept. In the late 19th century, theorists such as G. Stanley Hall began promoting the idea of adolescence as a distinct life stage. Prior to this time, there was a sense of ...

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