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1.1 Background to the Study
Adolescence is the transitory period the individual passes through in his /her growth from childhood to Adulthood. Studies have shown that the period consists of pressure which may be either internal or external to the young adult (Adams, 2006 & Schneider, 2010). Besides being a transitory period, they posited that it is a time of self-definition for the young individual. The high-risk behaviors of adolescence are the result of multiple causes, often beginning in early childhood, that change with age and are interrelated in complex ways. These causes operate at ecological (e.g., socioeconomic status, neighborhood, cultural context, social-relational (e.g., family members, peers, teachers), and individual (e.g., genetic dispositional factors and temperamental characteristics, sex) levels, that unfold against the backdrop of biological, neuro-cognitive, and emotional maturation and shifts in age-related social-developmental processes.
Research in the past two decades has highlighted the central role of genetics as a major factor contributing to the most troubling and costly outcomes of adolescent risk-taking, including violence, criminal activity and substance use disorders (Jaffee, 2005; Taylor, Iacono, & McGue, 2000). However, there is mounting evidence that genetic influences on a variety of problem outcomes reflect a complex interplay between inherited and environmental risk, with genetic risk leading to pathological behavior for some youth only when the primary socializing environment also is adverse (Cadoret, Winokur, Langbehn, & Rroughton, 1996; Reiss & Leve, 2007; Tienari, 2004).
Families, socioeconomic status and peers, the most significant socializing contexts for the emergence of adolescents’ behavioural patterns, are the foci of this paper. Socioeconomic status on adolescents’ behavioural patterns can only be understood in light of the simultaneous influence of other socializing contexts, particularly the peer context that will be discussed in the next section, but also broader contextual conditions that add to, shape, and moderate the effect of the family (Bronfenbrenner, 1979; Collins, Maccoby, Steinberg, Hetherington, & Bornstein, 2000). Conditions such as family poverty, family income, parental education level, neighborhood violence, single parent family status, major family disruptions e.g., (divorce, death of a parent), and cumulative family adversities all have demonstrated effects to increase adolescents’ behavioural patterns (Amato & Keith, 1991; Brooks-Gunn & Duncan, 1997; Sampson, Raudenbush, & Earls, 1997).
Parents are one of the most important and influential elements on the lives of their children. They have the power, ability to shape, sustain and develop their children's who will be interested, creative and tolerant, through their positive involvement in the learning process and educational activities. On the other hand parents who do not involve in their children educational process are also considered to be capable of repressing and destroying the motivation and ability of their children through neglect and indifference to their achievements. "A child’s capability to succeed in school depends on how successfully the child is managed by his /her parents in the home environment. It is an environment where the child learns the skills, attitudes and behavior which could mould them into a productive and successful student. However, not every child comes from a home that could provide them with the requisite educational resources necessary for their academic success. In accordance with that, a parent’s socioeconomic status plays an important role in providing these educational resources and it appears to impose the greatest impact on the child’s educational outcomes"( Vellymalay, 2012). Socioeconomic status has a relatively strong impact on parental involvement compared to other factors. However, there is a question as to how far the strength of the parent’s socioeconomic status could inspire a child to achieve academic success.
Parental involvement has a positive impact on student achievement at all socioeconomic levels, though involvement is probably more important for low socioeconomic schools, as they are more likely to have lower test scores and graduation rates. "Regardless of income, ethnicity or background, students with involved parents are more likely to earn higher grades and test scores, have better attitudes, behavior and attendance, and graduate and go onto additional education.
Higher parental involvement is associated with higher educational expectations, enrollment in gifted and talented programs, and positive perceptions of school"(Henderson, 1988). While parent involvement positively affects a student’s academic achievement, low Socioeconomic families are least likely to be involved in their students’ education (Turney & Kao, 2009; Ratcliff & Hunt, 2009; Van Velsor & Orozco,2007; Machen, Wilson, & Notar, 2005; Abdul-Adil & Farmer, 2006). Low Socioeconomic families are often working all of the time to take care of their families, and they have no time to participate in their child’s education on campus (Ratcliff & Hunt, 2009). Based on a study involving low socioeconomic mothers, mothers want to be involved in their child’s education, but the other problem is that they are less comfortable around teachers, and so they do not get involved (Machen, Wilson, &Notar, 2005).
In contemporary society, peer group influences have become increasingly pronounced and studies have shown that adolescents were more likely to increase behaviour that receives peer group approval (Arnett, 1992; De Vries, 1995; Allen, 2005; Clark & Loheac, 2007). Adolescents spend far more time in the exclusive company of their peers than their counter parts did in the past. Changes in the family roles that forced women into paid jobs have greatly reduced the quality time families spend together thus making peer groups a viable alternative for the young individuals (Clark & Loheac, 2007). Peer groups appear to answer adolescents concerns about many things including their changing bodies.
According to Schneider (2010) becoming a peer group member meets many adolescents concerns about social expectations such as developing independence from their parents, learning decision-making skills and acting on their own. However, these young teenagers find social expectations confusing and the ways of achieving them even more challenging. Peer influence on adolescents has been reported as being shrouded in myths and fear by parents. Parents perceive peer influence as a clog in the wheel of socializing their children desirably (Schneider, 2010). According to You (2011) perceived support from peers gives adolescent students a sense of motivation which enables them to see the importance of pursuing academic success This is because adolescents who are accepted by their peers are more likely to be psychologically healthier and self-confident than those rejected by their peers (Allen et al., 2005). However, Kiran-Esen (2012) reported significantly negative relationship between peer pressure and self-efficacy expectation (social and moral) in adolescents and that academic self-efficacy was higher in adolescents who were experiencing low level of peer pressure.
There are a variety of negative health indicators that show a peek during adolescence, namely homicide rates, non-intentional injuries, driving under alcohol effect or infection by sexually-transmitted diseases (Mulye, Park, Neson, Irwin & Brindis, 2009). Experimenting substances also occurs usually during adolescents, a time of development in which tolerance is lower and the risk of dependency increases (Glaser, Shelton & Bree, 2010). Peers and family have a key role in promoting health during adolescence, as well as, the perception that youngsters have of their quality of life and subjective well-being. Health does not depend solely on the delivery of health care during illness; on the contrary, influence of different settings may be crucial (Gaspar & Matos, 2008). Behavioural problems that occur during infancy and adolescence (particularly external problems, such as substance use and violence behaviours) may continue throughout adulthood, associated to social non-adaptation, substance abuse and conflicts (Bongers, Koot, Van der Ende & Verhulst, 2008). The peer group may on one hand, serve as a model and influence behaviours and attitudes, whilst on the other hand, it may provide easy access, encouragement and an appropriate social setting for consumption (Glaser, Shelton & Bree, 2010).
Social Learning Theory suggests that it is not necessary for adolescents to observe a given behaviour and adopt it; it is sufficient to perceive that the peer group accepts it, in order to be able to opt for similar behaviours (Petraitis, Flay & Miller, 1995). Peers may strongly determine preference in the way of dressing, speaking, using illicit substances, sexual behaviour, adopting and accepting violence, adopting criminal and anti-social behaviours and in many other areas of the adolescent’s life (Padilla, Walker & Bean, 2009; Tomé, Matos & Diniz, 2008). An example of this is that the main motives for alcohol consumption given by adolescents are related to social events, which usually take place in the company of friends, namely: drinking makes holidays more fun, it facilitates approaching others; it helps relaxing or facilitates sharing experiences and feelings (Kuntsche, Knibbe, Gmel & Engels, 2005). Also, mimicking risk behaviours may be greater when consumption begins in the context of a social event (Larsen, Engels, Souren, Granic & Overbeek, 2010).
Adolescence is an extremely difficult period when the individual goes through various physical and mental changes. Children and young adults go through a lot of stress (Fontana, David and Slack, Ingrid, 1997). The pressure of school, meeting expectations of parents and teachers and planning out a career for themselves puts them under considerable strain and tension. These conditions are more often imposed upon them by adults. Added to this is the adolescents’ experience of its own intense feelings of joy, sorrow, fear, love, disappointment and anger. Relationships with friends are of utmost importance and success or failure in these interactions weighs heavily on them. They have to go through formal education in these formative years and at the same time need to develop their self-confidence and a sense of personal identity
Recognizing the nature and strength of these pressures allows us to appreciate that stress; neuroses, unhappiness and depression are by no means the prerogative of adults. Unfortunately, little is done with formal education to help adolescents learn to understand themselves, to control their anxieties and their thought processes, and to discover tranquility, harmony and balance within themselves. Little is done to help them manage their own inner lives, to use their mental energies productively instead of dissipating it in worries and random thinking and to access the creative levels of their own minds. A lack of education in mind training at this stage has resulted in most adolescents developing bad mental habits. Often their minds are turmoil of excitements, hopes, expectations, anxieties and fantasies.
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