Adolescence in South Africa

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In this essay the concepts of sensitive periods and critical periods are going to be discussed, and critically evaluated in regards to identity development amongst South Africans. In doing so one should also take into consideration South Africa’s historical context. The period of Adolescence is when individual undergoes a set of physical and psychological changes, known as the teenage years, and begins the progression to adulthood. In other words the individual achieves psychological maturity and social maturity (Mwale, 2010). As a consequence of africa' class='brand-secondary'>South Africa’s historical background of Apartheid, adolescence in South Africa and the identity development of nationals has to be carefully analysed as a result of such incidents.
In my opinion adolescence is a sensitive period and not a critical period for identity development in South Africans. Critical periods involve the notion of an impactful event in one’s life that happens at a specific point during development (Papalia et al, 1998). But in order to answer the question of whether adolescence is a critical or sensitive period for identity development in South Africa one also needs to look at the variety of different definitions of critical and sensitive periods. For example critical periods can also be “… a certain kind of experience at one point in development has a profoundly different impact on future behaviour than having that same experience at any other point in development (Bruer, 2001).” Both these definitions refer to specific events in someone’s life that has an impact in one’s development. As a result of this ambiguity one can definitely argue that adolescence is a sensitive period and not a critical period for identity in South Africans.
Having said that, I would like t...

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Norris, S.A., Roeser, R.W., Richter, L.M., Lewin, N., Fleetwood, S.A., Taole, E. & van de Wolf, K. (2008). South African-ness Among Adolescents. The Emergence of a Collective Identity Within the Birth to Twenty Chort Study. Journal of Early Adolescence, 28 (1), 51-69.

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Papalia, D E, Olds, S W & Feldman, R D (1998). Human Development. 7th ed. Boston: McGraw-Hill.

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