Will Look at the Physical

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This essay will look at the physical, cognitive, emotional and social impacts upon an adolescent male featured within the supplied case study. The physical changes impacting on Chris as a 15 year old would be those usually associated with puberty. His muscle structure is changing, for example his shoulders will be broadening and he will be experiencing growth spurts and possibly growing pains associated with them. His hair may become greasy if not washed regularly and he will also be developing facial and pubic hair and perhaps hair on his chest.

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His voice has not long broken so he may still be getting used to that as well. His testicles should have dropped into his scrotum and he may be experiencing wet dreams and uncontrollable erections as his body adapts to the onslaught of hormonal changes. There are also changes to the makeup of his skin he may have problems with spots or acne. He may also develop BO as his sweat glands will put out pheromones as well as sweat and this will create an odour if he doesn’t wash regularly.

The changes that happen throughout puberty have a huge impact on young adolescent males and being one of the last in his class to go through them then Chris may be feeling that he has fallen behind his classmates. The impact of all these physical changes happening later for him than his peer group may well be low self esteem, shy, awkwardness. During puberty / adolescence there are other changes taking place that are not so physically visible. There are major changes happening in the brain as cognitive developments take place.

During adolescence thought processes become more complex and young adults begin to develop their abilities to use abstract thinking and to reason and analyse things. This may explain why teenagers and young adults seem so dazed and confused by the way things are around them. They are seeing things in new ways and are trying to adjust themselves and their world view in relation to the new insights they learn. They will question everything that they previously took on face value and they will also begin to find out things for themselves.

They may begin to show talents or interests that they did not before. For example they may begin to show a creative or artistic personality via music, drawing and painting, writing or they may develop an interest in maths or science or immerse themselves in literature. The psychologist Erik Erikson (1902 – 1994) in his theory of Psychosocial Development places adolescence as stage five in the eight stages of development. He refers to the fifth stage as Identity versus Role Confusion and applies it to the 13 – 18 years period of adolescence.

During this period, which Erikson believed to be pivotal in a persons development, children are in transition between childhood and adulthood. They are beginning to look to their future, starting to express their independence, looking towards their careers, relationships, where they may live, whether or not to have a family for example. It is during this period that a child has to learn the roles that they will take on as an adult. They will analyse and reanalyse their identity in the attempt to discover who they really are. Exploring other possibilities and beginning to form their own identity based upon the outcome of their explorations.

Their sense of who they are can be hindered, which results in a sense of confusion such as “I don’t know what I want to do or who I want to be when I grow up” about themselves and their place in society. It is during this period that an adolescent’s body image changes dramatically. Erikson says the adolescent may be uncomfortable about and with their body as it changes until they adapt and grow into these changes. Chris’s deliberation on the decisions he has to make at this time will be running through the cycle of, “I want to do this, but my father wants that, and my friends are doing their things … ho am I and who am I going to please, myself, my Dad, my friends? ” He is being pulled in so many different directions at this time due to his uncertainty. Chris also has to deal with the impact of his peer group, which for a young person going through adolescence is to conform to the expectations of the group and not necessarily to do what they themselves would like, this can lead to them in ignoring or hiding the things that will make them stand out, ie that Chris is excelling at art.

The hormonal changes in adolescence can lead to significant emotional and behavioural changes. These changes can lead to young people to become depressed, angry, frustrated as they begin to adapt to the changes taking place. They are developing a new awareness of themselves. They are trying to make sense of their feelings and emotions. Relationships, how they relate and interact with their family, friends, girlfriends and/or boyfriends are becoming a major feature of their lives. This period is a difficult one particularly for those who lack in self confidence.

Chris wants to go to college and university but he worries as to how his family and friends would view this and as to whether or not he would be able to cope with being away from home. Adolescents are generally very unsure of themselves, they are trying to find where they fit within society and so they tend to associate with others that are similar to themselves. They look to find themselves a peer group. The social factors and pressures affecting Chris come from him thinking of doing something different to the rest of his family and friends.

He would like to do something out with the norm. None of his family went on to university. His friends are only thinking of going on to work. His father made arrangements that Chris can do an apprenticeship as a mechanic. He doesn’t want to disappoint or upset his dad but he would like to go and study art and design at university. It’s possible he is feeling his life choices are being made for him due to his fathers’ actions; he feels powerless. Torn between what he thinks his family and friends expect of him and what he wants to do for himself.

He therefore feels he has both family pressure and peer pressure to contend with. His perception of what his family and friends expect of him and a lack of information in regards to what his options are may be holding him back from making his own decisions and choices. Which is a Cognitive impact. He lacks confidence; he has concerns over his ability to cope with living away from home. He feels his family will worry about him and his safety. Which is an Emotional impact. Chris may not have voiced to his family or friends he would like to go to university.

His family and friends may well be very supportive and proud of and happy for him to go on to university but until he says anything he will not know. Two national policies which affect young people and youth work in Scotland are Working and Learning Together (WALT) published by the Scottish Executive in February 2004 and More choices more chances (MCMC) also published by the Scottish Executive in June 2006 . The key features of MCMC are geared towards reducing the amount of young people aged 15 – 19 in Scotland who are not in education, employment or training (NEET).

The Scottish government has set out a strategy to actively reduce the numbers of young people who are NEET with targets and timescales. The key actions for young people in Chris’s age group of those under 16 are laid out in detail on page 22 of the policy document to meet the specific criteria of “Providing flexible, personalised learning opportunities and developing employability”, “Ensuring appropriate support for all learners regardless of abilities, needs and wider circumstances”, “Transforming the learning environment” and “Focus on outcomes”.

The key feature of WALT in regards to young people is that it places youth work, adult learning and community development at the centre of Community Learning and Development (CLD) along with community work and community based adult learning. It highlights as one of three national priorities for CLD “Achievement through learning for young people” and states that this is achieved by “engaging with young people to facilitate their personal, social and educational development and enable them to gain a voice, influence and place in society”.

Youth work practitioners who are aware of both of the aforementioned policies and work within organisations that have been influenced by them and therefore know how to apply them would be helpful to Chris in assisting him to make an informed choice and in supporting him to achieve what he chooses to do. They are as practitioners very much about empowering and enabling young people by facilitating informed choice. The appropriate use of the requirements of the policies by the practitioners would help Chris in the following ways.

MCMC would help addresses his requirements whilst at school via its structured approach of focus on outcomes. WALT would assist in that it would help ensure that Chris would be able to access information as to what options are available to him. Good youth work practice by the practitioners would help ensure that he would be informed and enabled so that he would have a say in his own choices so that he can formulate these choices voice his decisions and bring his wishes to fruition.

This would help him to find and make his place in society. As Erikson says in Identity and the Life Cycle (1959): “… What the child acquires at a given stage is a certain ratio between the positive and negative, which if the balance is toward the positive, will help him to meet later crises with a better chance for unimpaired total development… ” Word Count – 1672 Bibliography

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