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A group of teenagers. The term teenager is often considered synonymous with youth.

Youth is the time of life when one is young, but often means the time between childhood and adulthood (maturity).[1][2] It is also defined as "the appearance, freshness, vigor, spirit, etc., characteristic of one who is young".[3] Its definitions of a specific age range varies, as youth is not defined chronologically as a stage that can be tied to specific age ranges; nor can its end point be linked to specific activities, such as taking unpaid work or having sexual relations.[4]

Youth is an experience that may shape an individual's level of dependency, which can be marked in various ways according to different cultural perspectives. Personal experience is marked by an individual's cultural norms or traditions, while a youth's level of dependency means the extent to which they still rely on their family emotionally and economically.[4]


  • Terminology and definitions 1
    • General 1.1
    • Other definitions 1.2
  • School and education 2
  • Health 3
    • Mortality 3.1
    • Obesity 3.2
    • Bullying 3.3
    • Sexual health and politics 3.4
      • General 3.4.1
      • Philippines 3.4.2
  • In the Global South 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6

Terminology and definitions


Around the world, the English terms youth, adolescent, teenager, kid, and young person are interchanged, often meaning the same thing,[5] but they are occasionally differentiated. Youth can be referred to as the time of life when one is young. This involves childhood, and the time of life which is neither childhood nor adulthood, but rather somewhere in between.[6][7] Youth also identifies a particular mindset of attitude, as in "He is very youthful". For certain uses, such as employment statistics, the term also sometimes refers to individuals from the ages of 14 to 21.[8] However, the term adolescence refers to a specific age range during a specific developmental period in a person's life, unlike youth which is a socially constructed category. [9]

While recognizing that member states use different chronologies to define youth, the United Nations defines youth as persons between the ages of 15 and 24 with all UN statistics based on this definition. The UN also recognizes that a useful distinction can be made between teenagers (i.e. those between the ages of 13 and 19) and young adults (those between the ages of 20 and 24). While seeking to impose some uniformity on statistical approaches, the UN itself is aware of contradictions between approaches in its own statutes. Hence under the 15-24 definition (introduced in 1981) children are defined as those under the age of 14 while under the 1979 Convention on the Rights of the Child, those under the age of 18 are regarded as children.[4]

Although linked to biological processes of development and aging, youth is also defined as a social position that reflects the meanings different cultures and societies give to individuals between childhood and adulthood. The term in itself when referred to in a manner of social position, can be ambiguous when applied to someone of an older age with very low social position; potentially when still dependent on their guardians. [10]Scholars argue that age-based definitions have not been consistent across cultures or times and that thus it is more accurate to focus on social processes in the transition to adult independence for defining youth.[11]

"This world demands the qualities of youth: not a time of life but a state of mind, a temper of the will, a quality of imagination, a predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the life of ease." - Robert Kennedy[12]

Youth is the stage of constructing the self-concept. The self-concept of youth is influenced by several variables such as peers, lifestyle, gender, and culture.[13] It is the time of a person's life in which they make choices which will affect their future.[14]

Other definitions

In much of sub-Saharan Africa, the term "youth" is associated with young men from 15 to 30 or even 35 years of age. Youth in Nigeria includes all members of the Federal Republic of Nigeria aged 18–35.[15] Many African girls experience youth as a brief interlude between the onset of puberty and marriage and motherhood. But in urban settings, poor women are often considered youth much longer, even if they bear children outside of marriage. Varying culturally, the gender constructions of youth in Latin America and Southeast Asia differ from those of sub-Saharan Africa. In Vietnam, widespread notions of youth are sociopolitical constructions for both sexes between the ages of 15 and 35.[16]


  1. ^ "Youth". Macmillan Dictionary. Macmillan Publishers Limited. Retrieved 2013-8-15.
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  5. ^ Konopka, Gisela. (1973) "Requirements for Healthy Development of Adolescent Youth", Adolescence. 8 (31), p. 24.
  6. ^ "Youth"
  7. ^ Webster's New World Dictionary.
  8. ^ Altschuler, D.; Strangler, G.; Berkley, K.; Burton, L. (2009); "Supporting Youth in Transition to Adulthood: Lessons Learned from Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice". Center for Juvenile Justice Reform.
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Day of Affirmation, University of Cape Town, South Africa. June 6, 1966", Robert F. Kennedy Memorial. Retrieved 11/9/07.
  13. ^ Thomas, A. (2003) "Psychology of Adolescents", Self-Concept, Weight Issues and Body Image in Children and Adolescents, p. 88.
  14. ^ Wing, John, Jr. "Youth." Windsor Review: A Journal of the Arts 45.1 (2012): 9+. Academic OneFile. Web. 24 Oct. 2012.
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  16. ^ a b Dalsgaard, Anne Line Hansen, Karen Tranberg. "Youth and the City in the Global South" In Tracking Globalization. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. 2008: 9
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^ [1]
  20. ^ Grunbaum, J.A., Kann, L., Kinchen, S., Ross, J., Hawkins, J., Lowry, R., Harris, W.A., McManus, T., Chyen, D., Collins, J. (2004) Youth risk behavior surveillance--United States, 2003. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Surveillance Summaries, 53(2), 1-96.
  21. ^ William, H. (1998) Health Consequences of Obesity in Youth: Childhood Predictors of Adult Disease, Pediatrics, 101(2), 518-525.
  22. ^ Boulton MJ, Underwood K. Bully/victim problems among middle school children. Br J Educ Psychol.1992;62:73-87.
  23. ^ Olweus D. Aggression in the Schools: Bullies and Whipping Boys. Washington, DC: Hemisphere Publishing Corp; 1978.
  24. ^ Salmivalli C, Kaukiainen A, Kaistaniemi L, Lagerspetz KM. Self-evaluated self-esteem, peer-evaluated self-esteem, and defensive egotism as predictors of adolescents' participation in bullying situations. Pers Soc Psychol Bull.1999;25:1268-1278.
  25. ^ Slee PT. Bullying in the playground: the impact of inter-personal violence on Australian children's perceptions of their play environment. Child Environ.1995;12:320-327.
  26. ^ King A, Wold B, Tudor-Smith C, Harel Y. The Health of Youth: A Cross-National Survey. Canada: WHO Library Cataloguing; 1994. WHO Regional Publications, European Series No. 69.
  27. ^ US Department of Education. 1999 Annual Report on School Safety. Washington, DC: US Dept of Education; 1999:1-66.
  28. ^ Borg MG. The extent and nature of bullying among primary and secondary schoolchildren. Educ Res.1999;41:137-153.
  29. ^ Kaltiala-Heino R, Rimpela M, Marttunen M, Rimpela A, Rantanen P. Bullying, depression, and suicidal ideation in Finnish adolescents: school survey. BMJ.1999;319:348-351.
  30. ^ Menesini E, Eslea M, Smith PK. et al. Cross-national comparison of children's attitudes towards bully/victim problems in school. Aggressive Behav.1997;23:245-257.
  31. ^ Olweus D. Bullying at School: What We Know and What We Can Do. Oxford, England: Blackwell; 1993.
  32. ^ O'Moore AM, Smith KM. Bullying behaviour in Irish schools: a nationwide study. Ir J Psychol.1997;18:141-169.
  33. ^ Whitney I, Smith PK. A survey of the nature and extent of bullying in junior/middle and secondary schools. Educ Res.1993;34:3-25.
  34. ^ Austin S, Joseph S. Assessment of bully/victim problems in 8 to 11 year-olds. Br J Educ Psychol.1996;66:447-456.
  35. ^ Forero R, McLellan L, Rissel C, Bauman A. Bullying behaviour and psychosocial health among school students in New South Wales, Australia: cross sectional survey. BMJ.1999;319:344-348.
  36. ^ Kumpulainen K, Rasanen E, Henttonen I. et al. Bullying and psychiatric symptoms among elementary school-age children. Child Abuse Negl.1998;22:705-717.
  37. ^ Haynie DL, Nansel TR, Eitel P. et al. Bullies, victims, and bully/victims: distinct groups of youth at-risk. J Early Adolescence.2001;21:29-50.
  38. ^ Petchesky, R. (2000) 'Sexual rights: inventing a concept, mapping an international practice,' in R. Parker, R.M. Barbosa and P. Aggleton (eds), Framing the sexual subject: The politics of Gender, Sexuality and Power, Berkeley: University of California Press, pp. 81-103
  39. ^ Bearinger, Linda H., et al. 2007. "Global perspectives on the sexual and reproductive health of adelescents: patterns, prevention, and potential." The Lancet 369.9568: 1226
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See also

Many young lives in developing countries are defined by poverty, some suffer from famine and a lack of clean water, while involvement in armed conflict is all common. Health problems are rife, especially due to the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in certain regions. The United Nations estimates that 200 million young people live in poverty, 130 million are illiterate and 10 million live with HIV/AIDS.[4]

The vast majority of young people live in developing countries: according to the UN, globally around 85 per cent of 15-24 year-olds live in developing countries, a figure projected to grow 89.5 per cent by 2025. Moreover, this majority are extremely diverse: some live in rural areas but many inhabit the overcrowded metropolises of India, Asia and South America, some live traditional lives in tribal societies, while others participate in global youth culture in ghetto contexts.[4]

In the Global South

The Sangguniang Kabataan ("Youth Council" in English), commonly known as SK, was a youth council in each barangay in the Philippines, before being put "on hold", but not quite abolished, prior to the 2013 barangay elections.[40] The council represented teenagers from 15 to 17 years old who have resided in their barangay for at least six months and registered to vote. It was the local youth legislature in the village and therefore led the local youth program and projects of the government. The Sangguniang Kabataan was an offshoot of the KB or the Kabataang Barangay (Village Youth) which was abolished when the Local Government Code of 1991 was enacted.


Globalization and transnational flows have had tangible effects on sexual relations, identities, and subjectivities. In the wake of an increasingly globalized world order under waning Western dominance, within ideologies of modernity, civilization, and programs for social improvement, discourses on population control, 'safe sex', and 'sexual rights'.[38] Sex education programmes grounded in evidence-based approaches are a cornerstone in reducing adolescent sexual risk behaviours and promoting sexual health. In addition to providing accurate information about consequences of STIs and early pregnancy, such programmes build life skills for interpersonal communication and decision making. such programmes are most commonly implemented in schools, which reach large numbers of teenagers in areas where school enrollment rates are high. However, since not all young people are in school, sex education programmes have also been implemented in clinics, juvenile detention centers and youth-oriented community agencies. Notably, some programmes have been found to reduce risky sexual behaviours when implemented in both school and community settings with only minor modifications to the curricula.[39]


Sexual health and politics

Research examining characteristics of youth involved in bullying has consistently found that both bullies and those bullied demonstrate poorer psychosocial functioning than their non-involved peers. Youth who bully others tend to demonstrate higher levels of conduct problems and dislike of school, whereas youth who are bullied generally show higher levels of insecurity, anxiety, depression, loneliness, unhappiness, physical and mental symptoms, and low self-esteem. Males who are bullied also tend to be physically weaker than males in general. The few studies that have examined the characteristics of youth who both bully and are bullied found that these individuals exhibit the poorest psychosocial functioning overall.[34][35][36][37]

The majority of research on bullying has been conducted in Europe and Australia. Considerable variability among countries in the prevalence of bullying has been reported. In an international survey of adolescent health-related behaviors, the percentage of students who reported being bullied at least once during the current term ranged from a low of 15% to 20% in some countries to a high of 70% in others.[26][27] Of particular concern is frequent bullying, typically defined as bullying that occurs once a week or more. The prevalence of frequent bullying reported internationally ranges from a low of 1.9% among one Irish sample to a high of 19% in a Malta study.[28][29][30][31][32][33]

Bullying among school-aged youth is increasingly being recognized as an important problem affecting well-being and social functioning. While a certain amount of conflict and harassment is typical of youth peer relations, bullying presents a potentially more serious threat to healthy youth development. The definition of bullying is widely agreed on in literature on bullying.[22][23][24][25]


Many of the cardiovascular consequences that characterize adult-onset obesity are preceded by abnormalities that begin in childhood. Hyperlipidemia, hypertension, and abnormal glucose tolerance occur with increased frequency in obese children and adolescents. The relationship of cardiovascular risk factors to visceral fat independent of total body fat remains unclear. Sleep apnea, pseudotumor cerebri, and Blount's disease represent major sources of morbidity for which rapid and sustained weight reduction is essential. Although several periods of increased risk appear in childhood, it is not clear whether obesity with onset early in childhood carries a greater risk of adult morbidity and mortality.[21]

Discrimination against overweight children begins early in childhood and becomes progressively institutionalized. Because obese children tend to be taller than their non-overweight peers, they are apt to be viewed as more mature. The inappropriate expectations that result may have an adverse effect on their socialization.

Obesity now affects one in five children in the United States, and is the most prevalent nutritional disease of children and adolescents in the United States. Although obesity-associated morbidities occur more frequently in adults, significant consequences of obesity as well as the antecedents of adult disease occur in obese children and adolescents.


YRBSS includes a national school-based survey conducted by CDC as well as state and local school-based surveys conducted by education and health agencies.[20]

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention developed its Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) in 2003 to help assess risk behavior.[19] YRBSS monitors six categories of priority health-risk behaviors among youth and young adults:

A 2004 mortality study of youth (defined in this study as ages 10–24) mortality worldwide found that 97% of deaths occurred in low to middle-income countries, with the majority in southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Maternal conditions accounted for 15% of female deaths, while HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis were responsible for 11% of deaths; 14% of male and 5% of female deaths were attributed to traffic accidents, the largest cause overall. Violence accounted for 12% of male deaths. Suicide was the cause of 6% of all deaths.[18]

The leading causes of morbidity and mortality among youth and adults are due to certain health-risk behaviors. These behaviors are often established during youth and extend into adulthood. Since the risk behaviors in adulthood and youth are interrelated, problems in adulthood are preventable by influencing youth behavior.



Young people spend much of their lives in educational settings, and their experiences in schools, colleges and universities can shape much of their subsequent lives.[4] Research shows that poverty and income affect the likelihood for the incompletion of high school. These factors also increase the likelihood for the youth to not go to a college or university.[17]

School and education

August 12 was declared International Youth Day by the United Nations.


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