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Social Awakening

Social Awakening: Adolescent Behavior as Adulthood Approaches

Robert T. Michael Editor
Copyright Date: 2001
Published by: Russell Sage Foundation
Pages: 432
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  • Book Info
    Social Awakening
    Book Description:

    While headlines about violent crimes committed by adolescents often capture the public's attention, many more young people excel in the classroom, on the athletic field, and in the community. Why do some youngsters strive to achieve while others court disaster? Using new data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY), a survey of more than nine thousand young people between the ages of twelve and sixteen,Social Awakeningexplores the choices adolescents make about their lives and their futures. The book focuses on the key role the family plays as teenagers navigate the difficult transition from childhood to adulthood.

    Social Awakeninganalyzes a wide range of adolescent behavior and issues that affect teenagers' lives-from their dating and sexual behavior, drug and alcohol use, and physical and mental well-being, to their career goals and expectations for the future. The findings strengthen our understanding of how an array of family characteristics-single parenthood, income, educational level, race, and geographical location-influences teens' lives. One contributor explores why children from single-parent families are more likely to perform poorly in school and to indulge in risky behavior, such as drug abuse or promiscuous sexual activity. Another chapter examines why children of parents with a college degree are less likely to engage in early sexual activity. And another looks at different levels of criminal behavior among urban and rural youths.

    One of the advantages of an in-depth interview such as the NLSY is the wide array of behavior and experiences by the same youths that can be mutually investigated. The analysis inSocial Awakeninghelps confirm or refute what we think we know-to explore what we could not explore with older or less complex surveys. The NLSY, which forms the foundation ofSocial Awakening, will be updated annually over the coming decades to enable experts to learn how those who were adolescents at the dawn of the twenty-first century handled the move to adulthood.Social Awakeningprovides a compelling first look at these young peoples' lives.

    eISBN: 978-1-61044-395-1
    Subjects: Psychology, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Contributors
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Introduction A Lens on Adolescence: The 1997 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth
    (pp. 1-22)
    Robert T. Michael

    Probably no other span of life is associated with greater personal or public angst than the teenage years—the years of transition from childhood to adulthood. With an inexorability that is much anticipated but not well controlled, the child’s body changes. With these physical developments come associated changes in capabilities, interests, and sense of self as well as in social relationships with family members, peers, and authority figures. Communities, schools, and other social institutions as well as family members and friends attempt to guide the judgments and actions of adolescents as they explore new options and prepare for the responsibilities...

  6. Part I Adolescents’ Families and Their Influences on Youths

    • 1 The Effect of Family Structure on Youth Outcomes in the NLSY97
      (pp. 25-48)
      Charles R. Pierret

      It is well established that children who spend part of their childhood in a single-parent family—either because they were born to an unwed mother or because their parents divorced—do worse on a number of measures of well-being than do those who grow up in two-parent families (McLanahan and Sandefur 1994). Among the problems experienced by children from single-parent households cited by Barbara D. Whitehead (1993) in her controversial article in theAtlantic Monthly,“Dan Quayle Was Right,” are increased poverty, emotional and behavioral problems, teenage pregnancy, drug abuse, failure to complete high school, and trouble with the law....

    • 2 Patterns of Nonresident-Father Involvement
      (pp. 49-78)
      Laura M. Argys and H. Elizabeth Peters

      High rates of out-of-wedlock childbearing and marital disruption have increased the probability that children born in the United States will live apart from their biological father for some portion of their childhood. Although the consequences of living in a single-parent family are well documented (McLanahan and Sandefur 1994; Zill and Schoenborn 1990; Pierret, chapter 1 in this volume), there is considerable debate about the mechanisms that lead to negative outcomes for children and the factors that might mitigate these adverse outcomes.

      Policy makers are beginning to emphasize the important role that fathers play in their children’s lives. Many assert that...

    • 3 Parental Regulation and Adolescent Discretionary Time-Use Decisions: Findings from the NLSY97
      (pp. 79-106)
      Robin L. Tepper

      Most American adolescents spend fewer than seven hours each day in school, which leaves them with considerable free time at their disposal. Previous studies have estimated that this discretionary time accounts for 40 to 50 percent of most adolescents’ waking hours (Carnegie Council on Adolescent Development 1992; Larson and Richards 1989). Adolescents spend these nonschool hours in a variety of ways: doing homework, participating in sports, watching television, spending time with friends, and engaging in extracurricular activities. The way adolescents allocate their after-school and weekend time has an important effect on healthy development, academic achievement, and longterm productivity (Coleman, Hoffer,...

  7. Part II Adolescents’ Dating and Sexual Behavior

    • 4 Family Environment and Adolescent Sexual Debut in Alternative Household Structures
      (pp. 109-136)
      Mignon R. Moore

      The purpose of this study is to further our understanding of the relation between family structure, quality of parenting, and the onset of sexual activity among African American and white youths. While the literature on child well-being has noted the beneficial effects of living in a two-parent as opposed to a single-mother household, only recently have researchers begun to explore the association between family type and youth sexual behavior more rigorously, using refined concepts of family type. Moreover, sociologists have begun to investigate the way in which such developmental measures as parental support and discipline mediate the effect of family...

    • 5 Exploring Determinants of Adolescents’ Early Sexual Behavior
      (pp. 137-173)
      Robert T. Michael and Courtney Bickert

      A youth’s sexual awakening and early experiences with partnered sexual interactions are among the most salient aspects of adolescence. These experiences can be benign, healthy, and natural, but, if mishandled, they can have profound negative consequences, seriously diminishing the prospects for a healthy and productive adulthood. Consequently, they are an important arena for social policy research.

      In this essay, we explore the information about the dating and sexual behavior of fourteen-to sixteen-year-olds in the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, 1997 Cohort (NLSY97) data set. Our objectives are the following: to describe a few of the patterns of dating and sexual...

    • 6 Body Weight and the Dating and Sexual Behaviors of Young Adolescents
      (pp. 174-198)
      John Cawley

      In chapter 5 of this volume, Michael and Bickert examine the determinants of adolescents’ early sexual behaviors. In chapter 4, Moore focuses on the correlation between sexual debut and race, family structure, and parental discipline. This chapter focuses more narrowly, studying how early sexual and dating behaviors are correlated with adolescents’ body weight.

      It has repeatedly been found that heavier adolescents have fewer dates than healthy-weight adolescents (Halpern et al. 1999; Kallen and Doughty 1984). There are three possible explanations for this correlation. The first is that, at some point, weight reduces dating opportunities, which would be true if adolescents...

  8. Part III Adolescents’ Expectations and Their Well-Being

    • 7 Adolescents’ Expectations Regarding Birth Outcomes: A Comparison of the NLSY79 and NLSY97 Cohorts
      (pp. 201-229)
      James R. Walker

      I use data from the 1979 and 1997 Cohorts of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY79 and NLSY97, respectively) to investigate whether youths can reasonably forecast their future fertility outcomes and, if so, whether the intentions of today’s youths differ from those of earlier cohorts. A factor complicating the analysis is that the fertility questions in the NLSY97 differ from traditional fertility-expectations questions appearing, for example, in the NLSY79 and the National Survey of Family Growth 1995. Thus, instead of asking those respondents who state that they expect (plan or intend) to give birth again when they expect to...

    • 8 Who Are Youth “At Risk”? Expectations Evidence in the NLSY97
      (pp. 230-257)
      Jeff Dominitz, Charles F. Manski and Baruch Fischhoff

      There has long been public concern with the prospects of youth at risk of adverse socioeconomic outcomes, but identifying these youths has been a problem for policy researchers and practitioners alike. For example, recent California legislation directs state-funded employment-training programs to serve youth “who are considered to be atrisk of homelessness, crime, or welfare dependency, and who lack employment skills” (S.B. 2190, introduced February 20,1998). The legislation does not, however, interpret the critical phrase “considered to be at-risk.”

      Youth have traditionally been classified as “at risk” according to demographic attributes and personal experiences believed to predict adverse outcomes. For example,...

    • 9 Food Stamp Program Participation and Health: Estimates from the NLSY97
      (pp. 258-296)
      Diane Gibson

      In 1998, the Food Stamp Program provided vouchers worth $16.9 billion to participants and served an average of 19.8 million people per month. During 1998, children under age eighteen made up 53 percent of participants in the Food Stamp Program (Mathematica Policy Research Inc. 1999). The goal of the Food Stamp Program and other nutrition-assistance programs is to fight hunger, food insecurity, and related health problems (U.S. Department of Agriculture 1999).

      The expectation that participation in the Food Stamp Program improves health can be theoretically justified on the basis of a model of the demand for health developed by Grossman...

  9. Part IV Adolescents’ Antisocial Behavior

    • 10 What Determines Adolescent Demand for Alcohol and Marijuana? A Comparison of Findings from the NLSY79 and the NLSY97
      (pp. 299-338)
      Pinka Chatterji

      In 1999, 23.1 percent of high school seniors reported using marijuana in the past 30 days, and 32.9 percent admitted to having been drunk in the past 30 days (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 1999). These high rates of substance use are troubling in the light of the potential consequences of alcohol and marijuana use during adolescence. Substance use during youth is associated with motor-vehicle accidents, mentaland physical-health problems, and reductions in educational attainment (Newcomb and Bentler 1988; Cook and Moore 1993; Hansell and Ranskin-White 1991; Newcomb and Bentler 1987; Kandel 1986). Furthermore, there is considerable evidence that...

    • 11 Changes in Gender and Racial Gaps in Adolescent Antisocial Behavior: The NLSY97 Versus the NLSY79
      (pp. 339-378)
      Yasuyo Abe

      Antisocial behavior during adolescence is a widespread and troubling phenomenon (U.S. DHHS 1998). Of concern should be not only the immediate damage inflicted by lawbreaking teenagers, but also the negative personal consequences of habitual unlawful behavior, consequences that could last long beyond the adolescent years. An enhanced understanding of common delinquent behaviors among youths is, therefore, an important research goal. Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, 1997 and 1979 Cohorts (NLSY97 and NLSY79, respectively), this essay documents the frequency and types of antisocial activity among teenagers and compares findings from the two surveys in order to the...

    • 12 City Kids and Country Cousins: Rural and Urban Youths, Deviance, and Labor Market Ties
      (pp. 379-414)
      L. Susan Williams

      Americans have long maintained a romanticized view of rural life. The epigraph to this essay illustrates our obsession. Rural areas are seen as idyllic, as “God’s country,” as the perfect place to raise a family, free from corrupting urban influences. The thought of childhood in the country conjures images of 4-H clubs and barn dances, while the thought of childhood in the city brings images of crime and violence, perpetrated mostly by the black urban male, angry and on the prowl—a “superpredator” (Shapiro 1997). Such distorted notions of reality hinder a proper understanding of the phenomenon of juvenile delinquency...

  10. Index
    (pp. 415-420)