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Does Joint Custody Benefit Adolescents?

Many People Opt For A Joint Custody Following A Divorce So That Children Can Keep Seeing Both Parents Regularly. However, For Some Of The Children, It Might Actually Be More Problematic.

By Tara Kuther

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Analyzing Hair to Expand Research on Puberty: Not Everyone’s Experience is the Same

Puberty Is A Normal Process, But How You Go Through Puberty Can Set Your Life On A Specific Trajectory.

Puberty is something we all go through and yet there is limited science to explain what is happening inside our bodies during this transition, and how it affects our physical and mental health.

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Meet, Write, Collaborate: Networking in Working Groups

Networking Accomplished: First, Join The Group. Second, Find Your Person. Third, Create A Project.

Puberty is a complex and multifaceted process, and yet pubertal research typically resides in silos across fields such as medicine, genetics, psychology, anthropology, neuroscience, public health, or epidemiology. In each of these fields, novel measurement and theoretical approaches lead to incremental increases in our knowledge of puberty, but the most exciting discoveries usually happen when disciplines intersect. We had the opportunity to see this intersection of ideas first-hand at The New Biobehavioral Developmental Science of Puberty post-conference at SRA 2016 organized by Drs. Lorah Dorn, Liz Susman, and Anne Petersen.

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Our Genes, Our “Chemistry”: The Search for the Perfect Match

When We Say That There Is “Chemistry” Between People, We Are Not Probably Referring To The Activity Of The MHC-Genes. However, This Mechanism Might Be One Of The Key Components For Finding The Love Of Your Life.

By Karen Wu

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Latino Adolescents’ Ethnic Identity is a Buffer Against Perceived Discrimination

Latino Adolescents Might Become Targets Of Discrimination Due To Their Origin. However, Research Shows That Engaging With Their Ethnic Identity Might Serve As A Protective Factor.

By Tara Kuther

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Introduction to interdisciplinary research: The importance of getting your feet wet

Everybody Talks About The Need For Interdisciplinarity In Research – But What Does It Mean And Where Do I Start? Check Out Our Article For Some Insights And Tips On Interdisciplinarity.

By Arielle Deutsch

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Driving Under the Influence of Risky Peers

Adolescents Engage In A Great Deal Of Risky Behaviors, Particularly When Their Friends Are Around. This Is Especially Problematic When Adolescents Become Drivers. 

By Tara Kuther

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Adolescents’ Daily Experiences with Parents and Stress: Physical Health Problems and Cortisol Levels

During Adolescence, Interaction With Parents Can Become A Source Of Stress. Although It Might Seem That These Daily Hassles Are Trivial, The Stress Tends To Accumulate And Negatively Impact Health.

By Tara Kuther

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The Pros and Cons of Dating and Sex During Adolescence

Dating And Sexual Intercourse During Adolescence Is Often Seen As Negative, But Some Researchers View It As An Important Developmental Milestone.

Romantic relationships and sexual activity during adolescence are often viewed in the popular media as a complex topicOne popular news article from a parents-of-teens website suggests that teens should not be allowed to date until the parent has discussed with them all aspects of romance and dating, including sexual activity. However, opinions on “The Talk” and discussing sexual intercourse with adolescents vary by region. For example, I grew up in a highly conservative area of the South and had to sign a chastity pledge as part of my abstinence-only sexual education. Meanwhile, my friends in other states learned about various birth control methods. Some researchers maintain that early romantic relationships and sexual debut have harmful effects. Other researchers insist that these processes are all part of natural development and may have positive effects.

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The Promises and Pitfalls of Youth Mentoring Programs

Youth Mentoring Is A Popular, Cost-Effective Intervention, And We Need To Be Realistic About What It Can And Can’t Do.

Youth mentoring relationships are formed between young people and caring, non-parent adults. Enthusiasm for mentoring – from researchers, practitioners, policy makers, and the general public alike – has exploded over the past two decades, resulting in a rapid expansion in the size and number of mentoring programs. These programs, such as Big Brothers Big Sisters, typically seek to match adult volunteers with a young person (often designated as “at risk”) who needs a positive adult role model. At a given time, mentoring programs are serving an estimated 4.5 million children and adolescents in the U.S.

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Culture of Health Accelerator: Empowering Youth to be Leaders in Research and Practice

Boston High School Aged Youth Spent The Summer As Researchers In Their Communities And Shared Their Thoughts On What Contributes To Barriers To Wellness For Youth Of Color

This summer I worked on a research team that initiated a project called the Culture of Health Accelerator. The goal was to engage, mentor and support local youth to organize and implement culture of health initiatives in the shared community of Boston, MA. The idea was to empower youth to become active participants in decisions that impact their overall health and well-being. Youth can provide a perspective that is different from adults which can lead to innovative solutions to health problems and unique forms of data collection. Youth who participated in the first iteration of a six week summer institute had the opportunity to conduct and present their own research on the major issues that influence the health of those in their communities. One of the issues that the youth discussed in their presentation was the lack of access to healthy foods. They talked about how many of them purchase unhealthy foods and snacks from corner stores because there are no grocery stores in their neighborhoods.

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Gay-Straight Alliances and Well-Being of Sexual Minority and Majority Youth

What Can We Do For LGBTQ Youth That Are Too Often Targets Of Victimization And Discrimination? School-Based Gay-Straight Alliances (GSA) Might Be Instrumental In Promoting Resilience.

By Tara Kuther

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A Matter of Trust: How Trust and Reciprocity Change over the Course of Adolescence

Making And Keeping Friends: Examining Change And Stability In Trust, Reciprocity, And Empathy As Teens Age.

Adolescence, the period between ages 10 – 22, is a phase in life in which the social world becomes increasingly important. Maybe you recall this from your own teenage years: adolescents become more and more preoccupied with questions such as “What do others think about me?”, “How do I become popular?”, and “How can I make sure to make a lot of friends?” The increasingly complex social world of adolescents poses challenges, but also opportunities to develop social skills and work towards mature, long-term social goals. It has been argued that adolescents show a shift from self-oriented behavior towards other-oriented behavior, which helps them to attain the ‘adult goal’ of developing and maintaining stable, close relationships. There are several developmental changes in adolescence, such as increased sensitivity to rewards and improved perspective-taking skills, that make adolescence a period in which other-oriented behaviors are likely to emerge and become more complex.

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Identifying pathways and patterns of adolescent depression

Strategies For Identifying And Preventing Adolescent Depression: Summarizing 15 Years Of Research

With depression predicted to contribute to an increased disease burden in coming decades, prevention efforts have become increasingly important. Prevention needs to commence early in the lifecycle, possibly even with children as young as four years of age. To identify children and adolescents who are most at risk, our research looked to understand sub-groups of children with similarities in the development of depressive symptoms over time. We reviewed twenty English language longitudinal studies published between 2002 and 2015 originating in USA (8), Canada (5), Netherlands (2), Germany, Finland, Chile, Holland, and the UK/Wales/Scotland. We found five subgroups of children and adolescents through a unique statistical analysis known as trajectory modeling. While the majority (56%) of children followed a ‘No or low’ depressive symptom trajectory over time, 26% followed a ‘Moderate’ depressive symptom trajectory and 12% followed ‘High’, ‘Increasing’, or ‘Decreasing’ depressive symptom trajectories (total of 94% is due to rounding across studies).

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Defining Adolescence: Five Questions for the First Day of Class

How Do We Define Adolescence?: Five Questions About The Definition Of Adolescence To Facilitate Classroom Conversation

On the first day of class, I realized that the Obama Administration’s health insurance reform has affected my introductory exercise. Typically, on the first day, I ask students to write down responses to five questions:

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Parent-Child Separation at the Border: Let’s Talk about the Teenagers

Being Forcibly Separated From Your Parents Is Traumatic. These Are The Effects Teenagers Often Experience.

There are currently hundreds of migrant children and adolescents who were forcibly taken from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border, and most of them are currently being detained in hastily-made, spartan holding facilities. This policy has been met with outrage by politicians and citizens alike, many of who have expressed concern about the effect even a temporary parental separation might have on young people. It almost goes without saying that being forcibly taken from parents, with no knowledge of if or when you will see them again, is deeply traumatic. From developmental and psychological perspectives, what makes familial separation so harmful for teenagers?

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Mentoring Matters: How to support students of color in academia

 Investing In Quality Mentoring Relationships Can Contribute To Success In Graduate Programs, Especially For Students Of Color.

The graduate student experience can be a time of great stress and uncertainty for many. One of the most important aspects of graduate school, that can help alleviate that stress, is securing a mentor. It can determine success in program of study and your readiness to access postgraduate or postdoctoral opportunities. This is especially true for students of color because they have additional stressors due to navigating white-dominated institutions. This experience can oftentimes be alienating. Mentors of color are crucial to students success because they provide cultural and social capital in fields where women and minorities are underrepresented. In addition to focusing on the individual development and growth of your student, graduate mentors of color also have an important role of focusing on institutional change.

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My First International Data Collection Trip

When I Agreed To Help My Mentor With A Data Collection Trip To Mexico, I Learned What Really Went Into International Data Collection.

With international data collection, there are different obstacles to overcome compared to research conducted in an American college campus. When my mentor asked me if I wanted to help her collect data in Mexico regarding adolescents and sexual behaviors, I agreed. I was unprepared for how much work really went into the process or how much time I was truly investing— almost three years. While I would have been satisfied with just an interesting point on my CV, I learned about the pressure to be right the first time, passive consent, and being the recipient of romantic attention (yes, really).  

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Is Social Comparison on Social Media Detrimental? It Depends on Whether You Are Comparing Abilities or Opinions

Social Media Comparison Based On Opinion, Rather Than Ability, Is Adaptive For Youth.

In the digital age, social media makes social comparison easy by providing rich materials for comparison. Social comparison is a self-evaluation process in which people compare themselves with others. Social comparison comes in two forms: comparison of ability and comparison of opinion (see herehere, and here for additional details). Ability comparison is competition-based and thus inherently judgmental. It focuses on determining the superiority or inferiority of one’s performances and achievements, relative to others. Opinion comparison is information-based. It centers on identifying similarities and differences in ideas, values, and attitudes between oneself and others.

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New Special Issue on Intersectionality and Its Applications to Developmental Science

What Does Good Intersectional Research Look Like? What Questions Should Researchers Be Grappling With?

There is growing interest among developmental scientists in the applications of intersectionality to the study of adolescence. Although definitions and descriptions of intersectionality vary, this body of work is generally believed to argue that systemic oppressions (e.g., racism, able-ism, heterosexism, etc.) overlap to create unique conditions for individuals; conditions that are bound by the social contexts one is embedded in, and with implications for one’s well-being and development. This perspective raises critical and important questions about the study of adolescence. For example, How do we best theorize and measure overlapping oppressions among adolescents? How are overlapping oppressions experienced and how do they contribute to adolescents’ lives? Despite intersectionality’s increased popularity and presence in various fields, developmental scientists’ grappling with the emphasis on systemic overlapping oppressions has been limited.

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