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For other uses, see Youth (disambiguation).
A teenager in Italy. 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] Definitions of the specific age range that constitutes youth vary. An individual's actual maturity may not correspond to their chronological age, as immature individuals can exist at all ages. Youth research has come to define youth through personal experience, especially in terms of an individual's level 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 refers to the extent to which they still rely on their family emotionally and economically. [3] Youth is also defined as "the appearance, freshness, vigor, spirit, etc., characteristic of one who is young".[4]

Terminology and definitions[edit]

Around the world, the English terms youth, adolescent, teenager, kid, and young person are interchanged, often meaning the same thing, but they are occasionally differentiated. Youth can refer to the entire time of life when one is young, including childhood, an example of this is the British youth council [5] as well as travel agencies which refer to youth as under 31 but often refers specifically to the time of life that 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]

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. 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.[9]

"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[10]

Youth is an alternative word for the scientifically-oriented adolescent and the common terms teen and teenager. Other common terms for youth are young person and young people.[11]

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.[12] It is the time of a person's life in which they make choices which will affect their future.[13]

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


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.[14]


A 2004 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.[15]

Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS)[edit]

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.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention developed its Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) in 2003 to help assess risk behavior.[16] YRBSS monitors six categories of priority health-risk behaviors among youth and young adults:

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.[17]

Obesity in youth[edit]

Main article: Childhood obesity

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.

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.

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.[18]


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.[19][20][21][22]

Bullying is a specific type of aggression with the following three characters:

  1. the behavior is intended to harm or disturb,
  2. the behavior occurs repeatedly over time,
  3. there is an imbalance of power, with a more powerful person or group attacking a less powerful one. This asymmetry of power may be physical or psychological, and the aggressive behavior may be verbal (e.g., name-calling, threats), physical (e.g., hitting), or psychological (e.g., rumors, shunning/exclusion).

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.[23][24] 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 1 Irish sample to a high of 19% in a Malta study.[25][26][27][28][29][30]

Bullying takes many forms, and findings about the types of bullying that occur are fairly similar across countries. A British study involving 23 schools found that direct verbal aggression was the most common form of bullying, occurring with similar frequency in both sexes.[31] Direct physical aggression was more common among boys, while indirect forms were more common among girls. Similarly, in a study of several middle schools in Rome, the most common types of bullying reported by boys were threats, physical harm, rejection, and name-calling.[32] The most common forms for girls were name-calling, teasing, rumors, rejection, and taking of personal belongings.

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.[33][34][35][36]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Youth". Macmillan Dictionary. Macmillan Publishers Limited. Retrieved 2013-8-15.
  2. ^ "Youth". Merriam-Webster. Retrieved November 6, 2012. 
  3. ^ Furlong, Andy (2013). Youth Studies: An Introduction. USA: Routledge. pp. 2–3. ISBN 978-0-415-56476-2. 
  4. ^ "Youth". Retrieved November 6, 2012. 
  5. ^ British youth council
  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. ^ Tyyskä, Vappu (2005). "Conceptualizing and Theorizing Youth: Global Perspectives". Contemporary Youth Research: Local Expressions and Global Connections. London: Ashgate Books. p. 3. ISBN 0-7546-4161-9. 
  10. ^ "Day of Affirmation, University of Cape Town, South Africa. June 6, 1966", Robert F. Kennedy Memorial. Retrieved 11/9/07.
  11. ^ Konopka, Gisela. (1973) "Requirements for Healthy Development of Adolescent Youth", Adolescence. 8 (31), p. 24.
  12. ^ Thomas, A. (2003) "Psychology of Adolescents", Self-Concept, Weight Issues and Body Image in Children and Adolescents, p. 88.
  13. ^ Wing, John, Jr. "Youth." Windsor Review: A Journal of the Arts 45.1 (2012): 9+. Academic OneFile. Web. 24 Oct. 2012.
  14. ^ Njapa-Minyard, Pamela (2010). "After-school Programs: Attracting and Sustaining Youth Participation". International Journal of Learning 17 (9): 177–182. 
  15. ^ "Global patterns of mortality in young people: a systematic analysis of population health data". The Lancet 374 (9693): 881–892. September 2009. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(09)60741-8. 
  16. ^ [1]
  17. ^ 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.
  18. ^ William, H. (1998) Health Consequences of Obesity in Youth: Childhood Predictors of Adult Disease, Pediatrics, 101(2), 518-525.
  19. ^ Boulton MJ, Underwood K. Bully/victim problems among middle school children. Br J Educ Psychol.1992;62:73-87.
  20. ^ Olweus D. Aggression in the Schools: Bullies and Whipping Boys. Washington, DC: Hemisphere Publishing Corp; 1978.
  21. ^ 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.
  22. ^ 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.
  23. ^ 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.
  24. ^ US Department of Education. 1999 Annual Report on School Safety. Washington, DC: US Dept of Education; 1999:1-66.
  25. ^ Borg MG. The extent and nature of bullying among primary and secondary schoolchildren. Educ Res.1999;41:137-153.
  26. ^ 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.
  27. ^ 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.
  28. ^ Olweus D. Bullying at School: What We Know and What We Can Do. Oxford, England: Blackwell; 1993.
  29. ^ O'Moore AM, Smith KM. Bullying behaviour in Irish schools: a nationwide study. Ir J Psychol.1997;18:141-169.
  30. ^ 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.
  31. ^ Rivers I, Smith PK. Types of bullying behaviour and their correlates. Aggressive Behav.1994;20:359-368.
  32. ^ Baldry, Anna Costanza (November 1998). "Bullying among Italian Middle School Students: Combining Methods to Understand Aggressive Behaviours and Victimization". School Psychology International 19 (4): 361–374. doi:10.1177/0143034398194007. 
  33. ^ Austin S, Joseph S. Assessment of bully/victim problems in 8 to 11 year-olds. Br J Educ Psychol.1996;66:447-456.
  34. ^ 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.
  35. ^ Kumpulainen K, Rasanen E, Henttonen I. et al. Bullying and psychiatric symptoms among elementary school-age children. Child Abuse Negl.1998;22:705-717.
  36. ^ 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.