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By J. Roy Hopkins

ISBN-10: 0123555809

ISBN-13: 9780123555809

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Women may m a r r y in Mis­ sissippi at age 15, and in Alabama at 18. Adolescents are allowed to drive at age 15 in Hawaii, but must wait until they are 21 in Colo­ rado. Drinking age shows similar variation: In New York it is 18, in Alaska 19, in Delaware 20, and in Missouri 2 1 . Many states, such as Maryland, have recently raised the legal drinking age from 18 to 2 1 . Note that we do not assume that social maturity—the ability to make decisions and assume adult roles and responsibilities on one's own—is attained at the same time as physical maturity.

A person's sense of identity is vulnerable during a pe­ riod of marked status change, and this seems particularly true during adolescence. An adolescent's task is to integrate the physical changes of puberty with the psychological transformation into adulthood. Erik Erikson (1968), who wrote eloquently about adolescence in Western society, ex­ pressed it this way: Young people must become whole people in their own right, and this during a developmental stage characterized by a diversity of changes in physical growth, genital maturation, and social awareness .

In the majority the menses are first noticed after the breasts have grown to the height of two fingers' breadth. (Amundsen & Diers, 1969, p. 125) These are only estimates, of course, in comparison to the docu­ mented ages of the mid-1800s which show menarche at age I6V2. 3 6 PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT AND STATUS CHANGE The age of 14 might more accurately reflect the beginning of visible signs of puberty than menarche, as the quote from Historia Animalium suggests. Recent estimates are that menarche remained stable at about age 14 or 15 through the Medieval period, at which time age of men­ arche was delayed until age 16 or older.

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Adolescence. The Transitional Years by J. Roy Hopkins

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