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Chapter Fourteen. Adolescence: Biosocial Development. Puberty Begins. Period of rapid physical growth and sexual maturation typically completed three to four years after first visible signs Person attains adult size, shape, and sexual potential

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chapter fourteen

Chapter Fourteen


Biosocial Development

puberty begins
Puberty Begins

Period of rapid physical growth and sexual maturation

typically completed three to four years after first visible signs

Person attains adult size, shape, and sexual potential

Normally, body changes begin to appear between ages 8 and 14

It’s hard to prepare without knowing what changes will be and when they’ll appear

individual may grow a little taller and put on some weight


-for girls, puberty begins with growth of nipples, first pubic hair, widening of hip and menstrual period


-for boys, puberty begins with testes, growth of initial pubic hair, growth of penis and first ejaculation of seminal fluid

Puberty begins with hormone production in brain

hormones from hypothalamus trigger production in pituitary glands

in turn this triggers hormone production in adrenal glands and sex glands (gonads)

To regulate body functions and changes, many hormones follow this route, the HPA(hypothalamus/pituitary/adrenal) axis

At puberty, the pituitary gland activates the gonads, or sex glands (ovaries in females, testes in males)

One hormone in particular, GnRH, causes increased production of estrogen in females and testosterone in males

direct effects on emotions
Direct Effects on Emotions

Hormonal levels correlate with quick shifts in emotional extremes

For boys this increase precipitates thoughts about sex and masturbation

For girls hormonal changes of increase happiness in the middle of the menstrual cycle and sadness or anger at the end

Example: a 14-year-old teenage boy who can not control his sexual arousal and/or thoughts about sex and masturbation when he sees an attractive image or opposite sex.

Hormone levels produce visible signs of sexual maturation, which in turn create expectations of new maturity

social responses to biological signs trigger adolescent moods and reactions

One’s culture affects thoughts of sex

first sexual intercourse occurs at different ages in different cultures

stress in families
Stress in Families

Family conflict may cause earlier onset of puberty or irregular periods

stress levels affect hormone production

stress probably affects hormones causing puberty

Stress hypothesis gained support when researchers identified two factors influencing early puberty

conflicted relationships with family

violent or impoverished neighborhood

unrelated man living in the home

Some studies have concluded early onset of puberty is partly genetic.

parents reach puberty early also marry early

more likely those parents will be undereducated, depressed, angry and divorced

their children will live with conflicted divorce-prone parents

too early or too late
Too Early or Too Late

Early-maturing girl may be teased and is embarrassed

Age of menarche is a strong predictor of age at first intercourse

Late-maturing boys may be shunned

Early-maturing boys are socially popular and often sports heroes

Low self-esteem of off-time maturation lingers

Early-maturing girls become mothers sooner

Late-maturing boys marry later and are less likely to be leaders

primary sex characteristics
Primary sex characteristics—parts of the body that are directly involved in reproduction: vagina, uterus, testes, penis

Primary sex organs grow

girls: uterus grows, vaginal lining thickens

menarche—first menstrual period

boys: testes, penis, scrotal sac enlarge

spermarche—first ejaculation of seminal fluid

Primary Sex Characteristics
secondary sex characteristics
Secondary Sex Characteristics

Secondary sex characteristics—body characteristics not directly involved in reproduction but indicating sexual maturity


females accumulate fat

in both sexes, diameter of areola around nipples increases


voice lowers, especially in males

body hair becomes coarser and darker

new hair growth in armpits and in genital area

poor nutrition
Need for good, healthy calories is greater due to growth spurt

many adolescents become fat and flabby—due not to excess food, but lack of exercise

Adolescents generally eat enough but not the right foods

snack with friends

too much fat, sugar, empty calories; too little calcium

Only one in five U.S. high school seniors consumes RDI of five servings of fruits and vegetables

Inadequate milk consumption is troubling, as calcium is major contributor to bone growth

one-half adult bone mass acquired during adolescence

Fewer than half of all teenagers consume RDI of iron

females do not get enough iron, while menstrual cycle depletes iron; therefore, may become anemic

Nutritional deficits sometimes arise from distorted body image

Body Image—person’s concept of how his or her body appears

developing a healthy body image is an integral part of becoming an adult

negative-self appraisal has a major impact on self-esteem

Poor Nutrition
sex too soon
With puberty occurring earlier than it used to in the United States, and marriage later, long period between first sexual urges and marriage

More than 25 percent of teens are sexually active by age 14; about one-half active by high school graduation

Early sexual activity correlates with depression and drug use

Sexually active teenagers have higher rates of most common STDs—gonorrhea, genital herpes, syphilis, and chlamydia—than any other age group

Risk of exposure to HIV virus increases if a person is

already infected with other STDs

has more than one partner in a year

does not use condoms during intercourse

Sex Too Soon
teenage pregnancies
Younger adolescents within two years of beginning menarche are at increased risk for many complications because their bodies have not matured

risks include spontaneous abortion, eclampsia, stillbirth, C-section, low birth weight

women who have given birth before age 16 tend to be shorter and sicker as adults and live less long

Older adolescents are at less physical risk but have their own set of problems

after birth of baby, educational and vocational achievement slowed down

babies have a higher risk of prenatal and birth complications than other babies

problems are linked to culture and cohort

Teenage Pregnancies
the gateway drugs
Link between their occasional use and later drug abuse and addiction repeatedly found

characteristics: violence, early sexual activity, and school failure

drug use both cause and symptom of adolescent problem


decreases food consumption

interferes with absorption of nutrients

reduces fertility

most physically addictive drug of all


more harmful in adolescence

correlates with abnormal brain development


seriously slows down thinking processes, especially memory and abstract reasoning

may cause lack of motivation and indifference toward future

The Gateway Drugs
patterns of adolescent drug use
Almost every teenager tries one of the gateway drugs

by high school graduation, most have tried all three

experimentation happening earlier than previously

Experimentation and regular use

daily use and abuse increases throughout late adolescence

National culture makes a difference

In Europe, adolescents show increased drug use

adolescent girls in United States as likely to smoke as adolescent boys; in Asia and African few women smoke

drug use changes in frequency, composition, mode of delivery, and in form

Patterns of Adolescent Drug Use