Investing When it Counts: Reviewing the Evidence and Charting a Course of Action for Very Young Adolescents
Focusing attention on young adolescents is a smart investment, as this is the period where lifelong health behaviors are formed, when pathways of opportunity or risk emerge, and when the future life course begins to take shape. The developmental and social changes associated with early adolescence can have a lasting influence on the future trajectories of young people (Figure 1). Although the period of adolescence spans 10 years, early or young adolescence (the life phase between ages 10 and 14) is a time of particularly dynamic and rapid transitions. Gathering evidence about the timing, nature, and consequences of the key transitions that young adolescents undergo is critical for the development of appropriate policies and programs for this population. Strategic timing of interventions allows for positive outcomes before the architecture of adolescents’ lives is set.