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Adolescents In Transition In India

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ADOLESCENTS IN TRANSITION

Ever since Margaret Meed (1928) published her famous study, Coming of Age in Samoa, scholars from different disciplines have disagreed over the extent to which adolescence – as a life stage or as a development period – is biologically programmed.

Biological factors contribute in no less way than other factors in determining the timing of adolescence. Simmons and Blyth (1987) conducted a pioneering study on how biological changes accompanying puberty may have different consequences in different social contexts. Gradually social scientists are beginning to accept the notion that biology matters in a variety way for both individual and interpersonal processes (Rowe & Rodgers, 1997). Transition does not mean a break with or a change from what has gone before but rather a passage from one stage of development to another. During any transition period, the individual's status is vague and there is confusion about the roles the individual is expected to play. Transition refers to a passage from one stage of development to another. The adolescent during transition is neither a child nor on adult.

Adolescents in transition

Adolescence is a period of physical, psychological and social maturity from childhood to adulthood extended from the onset of puberty to attainment of full reproductive maturity. Adolescence has been defined as including those between 10 to 19 years of age (WHO/UNICEF statement 1989).

Transition does not mean a break with or a change from what has gone before but rather a passage from one stage of development to another. During any transition period, the individual's status is vague and there is confusion about the roles the individual is expected to play. Transition refers to a passage from one stage of development to another. The adolescent during transition is neither a child nor on adult.

In India, adolescence is traditionally viewed as an age of learning and strengthening the moral, spiritual and intellectual basis. It is therefore, a period considered for the adolescents to strictly abstain from sexual and reproductive activity. However the changing socio-cultural and technological era witnesses changes in the conceptual, attitudinal and behavioral aspects of society thus creating a need for education on human sexuality for adolescents.

Adolescents have been defined as persons between the ages of 10 and 19 years (WHO/UNICEF STATEMENT 1989). Adolescence is a crossroad in the development of life. India has an estimated 190 million adolescents comprising one fifth of the population. But their health needs, particularly reproductive health needs continue to be ignored and neglected. Adolescents in India are rarely considered as distinct group with special needs apart from those of children and adults. Despite the fact that adolescents represent a large proportion of the population, need for information about them has been recognized only very recently. Such lack of attention to adolescents has led to disturbingly high rates of adolescent marriage and fertility (IIPS 1995). Health Risks of Early Marriage and Childbearing is well documented (Acharya, 1998; Ramachandran, 1989; Jejeebhoy and Rama Rao, 1995). Although data are sparse and largely hospital-based, the available evidence suggests that maternal deaths are considerably higher among adolescents than older women (Pachauri and Jamshedji, 1983; Ascadi and Johnson-Acsadi, 1990; Bhatia, 1988). Studies that report on morbidity among adolescents suggest that levels of anemia and complications of pregnancy are considerably higher in this group than among older women (Pachauri and Jamshedji, 1983; Ramachandran, 1989). A community based study of poor adolescents and adult women in Andhra Pradesh found weight gain among adolescents during pregnancy was 2.7 kg compared to 4.8 kg among adult women. Similarly, weight loss during lactation was higher among adolescents than among adult women (2.9 and 1.9 kg, respectively), and birth weight and subsequent weight gain was substantially lower among infants born to adolescents compared to adult women (Geervani and Jaayashree, 1988). Another community based study in rural Maharashtra identified young maternal age as the leading factor for low birth weight (Hirve and Ganatra, 1994).

Whether or not adolescent is finally recognized as a distant stage of life, virtually all cultures distinguish young people and adults. Furthermore, most cultures institutionalize a period of preparation for adulthood. Despite some uniformities, however, the structure and content of the adolescent period varies markedly from culture to culture in ways that reflect broader social and institutional patterns (Benedict 1937) in other words, the cultural structuring of adolescence differs among societies.

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