At 18 years of age, young people in the United States can take on most of the rights and the responsibilities of adulthood. Before this occurs, however, the American teenager (a common name for a young person between the ages of 13 and 19), goes through the period of adolescence. Psychologists (specialists who study the science of human behavior) say that most young people experience conflict during this period of their lives. They are changing rapidly, both physically and emotionally and they are searching for self-identity. As they are growing up and becoming more independent, teenagers sometimes develop different values from those held by their parents. American teenagers begin to be influenced by the values expressed by their friends, the media (newspapers, television, magazines, etc.) and teachers. During this period of their lives, young people also begin to participate in social activities such as sporting events and church group projects, as well to do more things in the company of members of the opposite sex and fewer things in the company of their families.
While the teenage years for most American young people are nearly free of
serious conflict, all youths face a certain number of problems. Some young
people have difficulties in their relationships with their parents or problems
at school which may lead to use of alcohol or drugs, the refusal to attend
school or even to running away from home. In extreme cases, some might turn to
crime and become juvenile delinquents (a lawbreaker under 18).
However, for every teenager experiencing such problems many more are making
positive, important contributions to their communities, schools and society.
Millions of young people in the United States are preparing for the future in
exciting ways. Many teenagers are studying for college entrance exams or working
at part-time jobs after school and on the weekends. Others are volunteering at
hospitals, helping the handicapped, exhibiting projects at science fairs or