The common practice of permitting the, adolescent to sleep away from home is exceedingly dangerous. Many a youth may trace the beginning of his degeneracy to the downward, push received when he slept away from home. Care must be exercised also as to the kind of group he associates with; it is too much to expect a youth to be better than the gang with whom he consorts. During the most critical part of this critical, epoch neither youth nor maiden should, attend parties, picnics, or social entertainments, without a chaperon. This advice may seem radical, but if it is carried out, perhaps for just one year, until equilibrium is restored, it may prevent that one act to which so many unfortunates attribute their downfall.
Fortunate, too, is the adolescent who is permitted to attend a first-class high school taught by sympathetic teachers who understand the needs of adolescent nature. The imagination is now more vivid than it ever will be again, the logical reason is beginning to evolve and this period is preeminently “the breeding ground of ideas.” The school more than any other agency can keep the imagination, reason, and emotions so fully employed that little time is left in which to indulge morbid feelings and immoral thoughts. The school affords a moral atmosphere and gives a choice of good associates which make it invaluable during this critical epoch. It also disciplines the feelings and emotions and offers opportunity for emulation, industry, and the display of both physical and mental power. In truth, the school so occupies the attention and directs the interest that many a young man and woman passes through this period unscathed, without ever sensing the dangers which are escaped.
Finally, a “profound religious awakening” characterizes the early adolescent stage. It may be doubted that a genuine religious conviction can exist before this time; at least most writers hold that religious conversion takes place, if at all, during this period. Previous to this time, however, religious observance and ceremony should have become habitual in order that conversion may be most profound. Nothing else is more powerful than religious conviction and sentiment to reinforce good conduct and to inhibit wrong action. Religious conviction, together with the growth of ideals and the employment by the school of the physical and intellectual capacities, all supplemented by parental counsel and guidance, should insure the safe passage of the adolescent over this critical crisis of his life.
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
1. What are the physical changes that occur during the adolescent period?
2. What dangers to health are common at this time? What safeguards should be thrown about the youth to keep him strong in body?
3. Discuss the mental, moral, and emotional characteristics of the adolescent.