Definition of "adolescence" and related age groups
Adolescence has been described as the transition period in life when an
individual is no longer a child, but not yet an adult. It is a period
in which an individual undergoes enormous physical and psychological changes.
In addition, the adolescent experiences changes in social expectations
and perceptions. Physical growth and development are accompanied by sexual
maturation, often leading to intimate relationships. The individual's
capacity for abstract and critical thought also develops, along with a
sense of self-awareness when social expectations require emotional maturity.
Adolescents are defined as individuals in the 10-19 year age group. The
government of India, however, in the National Youth Policy defines adolescents
as 13-19 years.
"Youth" covers ages 15 to 24 years. GOI defines this
age group as 15-35 years.
"Young people" covers age 10 to 24 years.
"Young adults" covers ages 20 to 24 years.
"Adolescence" is recognized as a phase rather than a
fixed time period in an individual's life. As indicated above, it is a
phase of development on many fronts: from the appearance of secondary
sex characteristics (puberty) to sexual and reproductive maturity; the
development of mental processes and adult identity; and the transition
from total socio-economic and emotional dependence to relative independence.
It is important to note that adolescents are not a homogenous group. Their needs vary with their sex, stage of development, life circumstances and the socio-economic conditions of their environment.