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With all of the attention given to negative images of adolescents, however, the positive aspects of adolescents can be overlooked.
Professionals can play an important role in shifting perceptions of adolescents to the positive.
They vary in their English proficiency and educational levels and in their cultural practices and beliefs.
The number of foreign-born in the United States grew 44% between 1990 and the 2000. Unfortunately, many of the studies of adolescents reported in the scientific literature have looked only at White middle-class adolescents (Lerner & Galambos, 1998; Ohye and Daniel, 1999).
At the same time, however, the survey found that 89% of the respondents believed that “almost all teenagers can get back on track” with the right kind of guidance and attention.
In fact, most adults agree about the kinds of things that are important for adults to do with young people—encourage success in school, set boundaries, teach shared values, teach respect for cultural differences, guide decision making, give financial guidance, and so on (Scales, Benson, & Roehlkepartain, 2001).
However, fewer actually act on these beliefs to give young people the kind of support they need.
Efforts are made to move to a new way of understanding and working with adolescents in the context of larger systems (Lerner & Galambos, 1998); although working with adolescents and families is critical, systemic change is sometimes needed to safeguard adolescent health.
Also at the heart of is the theme that today’s adolescent needs one thing that adults seem to have the least surplus of—time. Council of Economic Advisers, teens rated “not having enough time together” with their parents as one of their top problems. A crosscutting theme, regardless of one’s professional role, is the need to communicate effectively with youth.
Despite the negative portrayals that sometimes seem so prevalent—and the negative attitudes about adolescents that they support—the picture of adolescents today is largely a very positive one.