Adolescents live in a changing world. Those changes come in the readily recognizable form of pressing familial, educational, economic, informational, cultural and global challenges. We have yet to see how these transformations will impact adolescents’ personal relationships and their place in society. We do know, however, that current approaches to the socialization of adolescents raise important concerns as parents and social institutions respond to challenges. This book explores these changes and challenges by examining the extent to which we may foster adolescent development in ways that respect and foster adolescents’ basic rights to relationships they deem appropriate, fulfilling, and worthy of protection. It also explores those changes and rights from a view that acknowledges the need to respect the rights of others, that recognizes that adolescents’ rights are not for them alone.
Our understanding of the history of adolescence may suggest that parents and broader society will continue to control (and retain the broad right to control) the development of adolescents’ personal values, relationships, and conceptions of what type of relationships and society they deem worthy. However, rapid changes in law, conceptions of rights, views of adolescence, understandings of personal relationships and influences on them all suggest a need to reconsider how best to balance the rights and obligations of adolescents, parents, and society. In reconsidering these issues, an examination of the nature and promise of sexuality education offers an unusual opportunity. …from Preface