The Promise of Adolescence: Realizing Opportunity for All Youth

Researchers from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in Washington, D.C. have released a new report, “The Promise of Adolescence: Realizing Opportunity for All Youth.”

Adolescents—young people ages 10 to 25—make up nearly one-fourth of the U.S. population. Drawing upon recent scientific advances, the report finds ample evidence that adolescence offers great promise: The changes in brain structure and connectivity that happen at this age present young people with unique opportunities for positive, life-shaping development, and for recovery from past adversity. 

The report calls for policies and practices that will better leverage the developmental opportunities offered by adolescence. The report provides multiple recommendations for capitalizing on these opportunities, and for addressing inequities—in education, in health care, and in other areas—that undermine the well-being of many adolescents and leave them less able to take advantage of the promise offered by this stage of life. 

In the area of education, the report says children from disadvantaged households likely need more resources if society is to reduce disparities in educational outcomes. Among its recommendations: rectifying disparities in resources for the least-advantaged students, fostering culturally sensitive learning environments, and teaching practical skills such as decision-making, adaptability and psychosocial skills.

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