Young adolescence is a critical life-cycle stage marked by a dynamic combination of opportunity and risk. During this time, children undergo tremendous physical, emotional, social, and cognitive changes as well as socialization into prevailing sexual and gender norms. For the majority, young adolescence is characterized by relatively good health and stable family circumstances, but it can also be a period of vulnerability due to a number of rapid transitions that force some young people into adult roles. Most young adolescents experience the onset of puberty (girls earlier than boys), which typically marks an abrupt life change. Some young adolescents will experience their first sexual encounter, which may not be volitional. Other transitions may include leaving school, entering the labor force, moving away from or losing parents, and early marriage. Promoting Healthy, Safe, and Productive Transitions to Adulthood Brief No. 37 explores adolescents as a neglected population for research, programming, and advocacy; fostering of research and program experimentation by the Population Council; implications for policy, programs, and research; and areas for future work.
Brady, Martha. 2011. "Calling attention to young adolescents: Building the evidence base to inform policies and programs," Promoting Healthy, Safe, and Productive Transitions to Adulthood Brief no. 37. New York: Population Council.