Biological and physical changes

This period of self-identity is a curial period of development, adolescences must separate there own identity from that of there parents and develop autonomy in order to maintain maturity. There are gender differences in identity formation between the sexes based on autonomy and attachment. Identity formation for girls is not based as much on autonomy as it is based on attachment, whereas the male identity formation is more autonomy based, this is because the boy’s primary care giver is normally his mother. Therefore, ” the path for a boy towards development lies not in the continuation of attachment, but is the separation of the early care giver, and in the definition of himself as different, masculine, and independent.”(Browne 1987)

Erikson saw this stage of crises in adolescences as involving identity verses role confusion, Muuss (1996) comments that, “rapid physical growth and new genital maturity alert young people to there impending adulthood and they begin to wonder about there roles in adult society.” Erikson believes that those who are attracted to delinquency have a poorly formed since of personal identity and low self esteem. The adolescence that fails in the search for identity will experience role diffusion and role confusion; the individual may become involved in self-destructive activities to release the anxiety that role diffusion creates.

Self-esteem is a central component of personality and identity, because adolescences are confronting experiences about there intellectual abilities, popularity, social skills and the biological changes associated with puberty there self perception can change. According to Happer (1991) low self-esteem is associated with a host of problems including drug and alcohol abuse, eating disorders, depression and suicide. Overholser (1995) explains that self esteem is usually formed during childhood, but it does not begin to effect a person until adolescence because of the presence of improved cognitive Skills which allows an adolescent to evaluate his or herself critically and this can lead an individual to value themselves negatively.

Erikson also saw our social culture and environment as having significant influence on our dominant models of acting and thinking. So what other factors can account for deviant adolescent outcomes? There has been for some time growing recognition that parenting styles and practices may be responsible for the problematic and anti-social behaviour of young people. Kandel (1996) informs us that parents have direct and indirect effects on their children’s deviance. Direct parental effects stem from he type of role modelling that they set, by example of their behaviour and the role that they play within society and the local community, through this social reinforcement adolescence conform to norms and standards that are appropriate Parent child social interaction and especially monitoring of children’s activities and peer groups are of vital importance.

Papalia (1986) informs us that social learning theories suggest ways in which adolescences learn how to behave; there major contribution is that they have helped us understand how the specific content of environment may influence adolescent behaviour. Adolescent deviance is caused indirectly through deviant parental behaviours, poor management techniques, inappropriate monitoring of adolescent activities and poor quality of interaction. Communication between parents and adolescences is especially important, for those who turn solely to peers for advice are particularly vulnerable to negative peer pressure.

There are clear relationships between adolescent ego development and family interactions. Family environments, which emphasize authoritative parenting through warmth, acceptance and understanding support higher levels of ego development whereas the absence of these equals diminished levels of ego development. Therefore research has looked at the consequences of different parenting styles as this is an important component of identity formation and can be associated with specific behavioural, cognitive and social characteristics of the child. Stanford (1985) informs us that authoritherian parenting can lead to lower emphasis by the child on internal moral judgement and the development of low self-esteem. Whereas permissive parenting can lead to impulsive and aggressive behaviour lacking in social responsibility and independence.

A single parent family are an increasingly large proportion of all households and is something that is increasingly more common. Stanford (1985) carried out research on single parents and the control of adolescence and concluded that family structure does affect deviance within each sex, but the impact of family structure was stronger for males. Recent research in the journal The Lancet Stated that children from single parent families were more likely to commit suicide, suffer from mental problems and that boys were four times more likely to use drugs, while girls were three times more likely.

In conclusion the physical changes of adolescence are enormous, they reach sexual maturity and gain the ability to intellectually think abstractly and hypothetically, and personalities mature. These changes bring with them emotional stress, turmoil and social changes. It is a time of transition and the onset of puberty plays an important part. We looked at the growing body of research that suggested that adolescences that experience puberty ‘of time’ compared to age mates face various adaptive problems as a consequence, gender differences were considered in relation to this deviant behaviour.

The development of autonomy can be a stressful time for both parents and adolescence, but this is essential for the development of an adolescent identity. Erikson’s theory of ‘identity crises’ was discussed and concluded that those who had poorly formed sense of identity and poor self-esteem were more likely to be deviant.

The evolution of the change family unit and parenting styles were considered as a stimulus for deviant behaviour in adolescence and the research stated that family structure dose effects deviances among adolescences. From the theories and research on adolescences and deviances, it becomes clear that there are a number of interrelating factors and issues that are associated with deviant behaviour in adolescences and these all must be considered from the biological, physical, and inner turmoil, to family and community environment to individual personality, vulnerability and peer influences, which when organised by focus are independent and intertwined.


Alsaker (1995) Timing of puberty and reactions to pubertal changes. In Psychosocial disturbances in young people: challenges for prevention. Rutter, M (Ed) Cambridge. Cambridge University press.

Brawne (1987) When battered woman kill. The Free Press, New York.

Buchanan etal (1992) Are adolescence the victim of raging hormones: evidence for activational effects of hormones on moods and behaviour at adolescence, Psychological Bulletin, 111, 62-107. Colman etal. The nature of adolescence, 3rd Edition, Routhedge, London.

Harper (1991) Adolescent problems and their to self-esteem. Journal of Adolescences, 26, 799-808.

Freud (1937) The ego and the mechanisms of defence, Hogarth Press, London.

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