Second paper

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2nd paper

Watch the video (Drugged: High on Alcohol) and answer the following three questions

Each answer should be about a 200 word’s paragraph (Total: 600 words, 3 paragraphs) + a conclusion



What were the


components that drove him to drink? What were the


components that drove him to drink?


Draw from the article

Nature Nurture None of the Above)


How did his peers contribute to his drinking problem? How did his peers try to intervene and stop his drinking problem?


Draw from the article

The Power of Peers)


Did Ryan seem to be thinking about the long-term consequences of his drinking? If so, how? If not, why do you think he did not?


Draw from the article

Epstein- The Myth of the Teen Brain)




Please make sure you quote from the readings

Video link: High on Alcohol)



Second paper
Laurence Steinberg, Ph.D. II’ with B. Bradford Brown, Ph.D., and .Sanford M. Dornbusch, Ph.D. SIMON & SCHUSTER New York LondonToronto Sydney Tokyo Singapore SIMON &SCHUSTER Rockefeller Center 1230Avenue ofthe Americas New York, NY 10020 Copyright ©1996 by Laurence Steinberg Allrights reserved, including the right ofreproduction inwhole orin part inany form. SIMON &SCHUSTER and colophon areregistered trademarks ofSimon &SchusterInc. Designed byJennifer Ann Daddio Manufactured inthe LJ:nited States ofAmerica 3 5 7 9 108 G 4 2 Library ofCongress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Steinberg, Laurence D., date. Beyondtheclassroom: why school reform hasfailed and what parents needtodo / Laurence Steinberg, with B. BradfordBrownandSanford M.Dornbusch. p. em. Includes bibliographical references and index. 1.Highschool students-United States-Social conditions-Longitudinal studies. 2. Academic achievement-United States-Longitudinal studies. 3. Home and school­ United States-Longitudinal studies.4.High school students-United States­ Attitudes-Longitudinal studies .. I.Brown, B. Btadford (BensonBradford), date. II. Dornbusch, Sanford M. III.Title. LC205.574 1996 370.19’342’09794-.<1c20 96-3GG2 CIF ISBN 0-G84-80008-X EIGHT The Power of Peers Parents playa centralroleininfluencing theirchild’s development andedu­ cation, but by the time children havereached thelater years of elementary school, friendshavetalcen on tremendous importance in theirschool life.In order to understand thefull complement of influences on school perfor­ mance and engagement, especiallyduringtheadolescent years-and in order to understand thecauses of America’s achievement problem-we need to lookclosely atthe iroles played by peerJllIndeed, ourresearch indicates that peers shape student achievement patternsinprofound ways, and thatin many respects friendsaremore powerful ‘influences thanfamily members are, Foralarge number of adolescents, peers-not parents-are the chief determinants of how intensely theyareinvested inschool and how much ef­ fort they devote totheir education,) THE SOCiAL WORLD OF ADOLESCENCE In our research, wedevoted countless hours to investigating anddescribing the social world of adolescence. Thisexpenditure of timeandenergy was necessary becausestudying peerinfluences onadolescent behaviorentails 138 THE POWER OF PEERS muchmorethanstudying theinfluence of theadolescent’s closefriends. The closefriends ayoung person has,while significant influencesinayoung per­ son’s life,areonly asmall part of thetotal complex of peerinfluence. The adolescent’s socialworld canbedrawn as three concentric circles. In the innermostcirclearethe youngster’s one or two ~est friene&-lThese arethe other children with whom thechild spends most of hisorher free time-at lunch, during freeperiods, and so on. If youarethe parent of achild be­ tween the ages of tenand sixteen, talce amoment and think about thechil­ dren whoareyour child’s besrfriends. Thesearethe children whom your child greets first on arriving atschool, andthey arealso thechildren whom your child sees lastbefore leaving schoolatthe end of the day. When the telephone ringsforyour child on aweekday eveningorweekend afternoon, more often than not itisone of thesepals. Best friends comprise theinner circle of thesocial map of adolescence. In thenext circle out arethe youngsters whoaremembers of the adolescent’s rliquel These adolescents arealso thechild’s friends, but theirfriendships are not nearly as intimate as arethe ones thechild haswith hisorher closest companions, andthese relationships mayfluctuate inimportance from week toweek. At anyone time,anadolescent’s cliqueusually willhave somewhere betweensixand tenmembers. Cliquemembers willsitatthe same tables inthe school cafeteria, hangaround witheachother during re­ cess, andinteract witheachother as theytravel toand from class and school. These arethe children whosenames typically popupinthe stories children share withtheir parents abourtheevents of theschool day. The third circle in themap of adolescent peerrelations iscomposed of the adolescent’s~rowd.jrhe adolescent’s crowd ismadeupoflike-minded in­ dividuals whoshare certain features incommon witheachother burwho are not necessarily eachother’s friends. Indeed, it ispossible foradolescents ro bemembers of the same crowd without reallylmowing eachother wellat all. This isbecause adolescents aremembers of the same crowd byvirtue of their common interests,arritudes, andpreferred activities, not because of theirre­ lationships witheachother. What crowd members haveincommon is not intimacy, but shared identity. Buteven though crowdmembers do not share the intimacy of close friends, rhey influenceeachother inimportant ways. An adolescent may not talkmuch about themembers of hisorher crowd, 139 BEYOND THE CLASSROOM but, as youwill read, crowd members greatlyinfluence eachother neverthe­ less. THE IMPORTANCE OF PEER CROWDS When adults tendtothink of peer influences on adolescent behavior,they tend tothink mainly aboutinfluences withintheinnermost circle(best friends), secondarily abourinfluences inthe middle circle(theclique), and only marginally, if atall, abour influences inthe outermost circle(the crowd). This isquitereasonable, since we mightexpect thatindividuals will be most influenced bythe people withwhom theyareclosest, andleast af­ fected bypeople withwhom theyshare littleintimacy. Of course, it istrue that during adolescence, as during otherperiods of life,best friends influ­ ence each other’sbehavior agood deal.Burduring adolescence, peerinflu­ ence operates withincliques andcrowds inextremely important ways,and adults should probably paymore attention thantheydotothe ways in which adolescents areinfluenced bythese groups of friends. It isespecially easy tounderestimate thepower of theadolescent crowd, because itsinfluence istransmitted in less direct,andmore subtle, ways than istheinfluence of theadolescents’ closefriends or clique. Closefriends and clique members influence eachother inadolescence much as theyinfluence each other inchildhood or adulthood: byproviding modelswhosebehavior can becopied (”I’mdressing thisway because Jamielooks so coolwhen she dresses thisway”); byrewarding orpunishing certainactions, therebyin­ creasing (ordecreasing) thelikelihood of our repeating them(”I’mnever wearing thisagain because Lukelaughed atme”); andbyexerting direct pressure tobehave oneway or another (“JessietoldmeIjust had towear this shirt tothe party”). Crowds, incontrast, are less common inadulthood, and their influence isless familiar toadults. IBecause crowdmembers donot necessarily knoweachother personally, they don’t influence eachother directlyt-through modeling,reinforcement, or coercion. Crowdmembers influenceeachother indirectly, throughestab­ lishing normsandstandards thatthemembers feel they must adhere to. Once theadolescent hasidentified withaparticular crowd,thecrowd’s stan­ dards become internalized, incorporated intohisorher own sense of self. As 140 THE POWER OF PEERS aconsequence, adhering to thenorms and standards of the crowd does not feel to theadolescent likesuccumbing to peer pressure; it feels mo ce likean expression of his orher own identity. Adults do not understand thisdistinction verywell. When wethink of “peer pressure,” wetend toenvision anadolescent beingcoerced byfriends to engage inacertain behavior (“Come on, justtrythis cigarette”), inthe company of friends whomodel aspecific action and thenwaittobe imitated (“Everyone isdoing it”),orwho actively rewardorpunish theadolescent for behaving inagiven way(“You’re not really wearing that!”). To be sure,such instances of active peerpressure doindeed occurinthe daily lives of teenagers. Butmuch of thepeer pressure experienced byadolescents is not this active-nor is itnecessarily experienced as pressure-although itis no less powerfulinits own way than the more activeforms. PEER PRESSURE PEAKS IN EARLY ADOLESCENCE IThe less secure weare about ourown identity and our owndecision-malcing abilities, the more weare influenced byothers’ opinions Burthesalience of the crowd as aninfluence on our behavior declines as we’become adults.Be­ cause adolescence is atime when individuals oftenhavequestions about their identity and theirability to function independently, it isinherentlya time of heightened vulnerability tothe influence of others. Whileadultsare not immune to pressure fromtheirpeers, theyaresignificantly less suscepti­ ble toitthan adolescents are. In our research, wehave been able to chart changes inindividuals’ sus­ ceptibility to peer pressure as theymove intoandthrough adolescence. In severaldifferent studies,wehave found thatvulnerability topeer pressure­ that is, how easily swayed aperson isby the demands of hisorher friends­ rises as children becometeenagers, peal There is a specific periodindevelopment, then-roughly from agetwelve through sixteen-when individuals areeasily influenced bytheir peers. And it isduring thistime thatpeers begin ro playanenormouslYI importantrole in influencing achievement. It isespeciallyinteresting to juxtapose thedevelopmental course of peer 141 BEYOND THE CLASSROOM pressure,withitspower peaking inearly adolescence, withwhat weknow about thedevelopmental course of parentalinvolvement inschooling. & noted in the last chapter, national studies of American familiesshowthat parental involvement drops off precipitously betweenelementary and sec­ ondary school-precisely at the time when youngsters’ susceptibiliry topeer influence israpidly rising.Moreover, ourevidence indicates thatthissort of parental disengagement isnot limitedtoschool matters, but affectsawhole range of issues, including monitoring and regulating thechild’s relationships with friends, thechild’s useofleisure time, and thechild’s choice of activi­ ties. Tothe extent thatdiminished involvement intheir children’s livesren­ ders parents’ influence less powerful, thedoor isopened forpeers tostep in and exert asignificant impact on eachother’s behavior-including their be­ havior inschool. And this isprecisely whathappens between thesixth and renth grades. At thispoint, infact, children’s achievement ismoreeasily in­ fluenced bytheir peers thanatany other time in theirschool career. SHOULD ADULTS PANIC? When adultsaretold thatyoung adolescents arehighly susceptible tothe in­ fluence of friends-and, in fact, thatfriends maybemore potent sources of influence than parents-their firstreaction isalmost alwaystingedwithanx­ iety and fear. The stereotype of the adolescent peergroup portrays it as an influence thatinevitably affectsteenagers forthe worse-that rempts them into trouble, steers them awayfrom theendeavors thatadults value, and co­ erces them toengage inrisky orillicit activities. In reality, thisview of theadolescent’s socialworld isfartoo simplistic. True, therearepeers whoencourage theirfriends tobe sexually activeorto experiment withdrugs, and there aresome whocajole theirclassmates into cutting class or skipping school.Butresearch tells us thatthere arealso teenagers who put pressure on theirfriends tostay away from drugs, remain committed toschool, and refrain from sex, and thatthese peers canbejust as powerful intheir influence on other teenagers as peerswhoaretrying to steer other students inthe wrong direction. Inother words, although peer pressure inearly adolescence isagiven, harmfUL peer pressure isnot. Friends caninfluence eachother’s schoolperformance positivelyorneg- 142 THE POWER OF PEERS atively. &; adultssuspect, anadolescent whoseftiends dispatage schoolsuc­ cess willbesteered awayfromscholastic achievement. All otherthings being eq ual,a Bstudent whosefriends areCstudents orwho arealienated from school, willusually see hisorher own grades decline overtime as aresult of associating withthese less academically orientedpeers.But,bythe same token, anadolescent whosefriends valuedoing wellinschool willbenefit by his orher contact withthese peers. That is, a Bstudent whosefriends areA students willimprove hisorher school performance overtime as aresult of these friendships. Althoughalladolescents willbeinfluenced bytheir friends, thespecific direction of influence dependsonwho one’s friends are and whattheyvalue. Because of rhis, it is not enough todiscuss peerpres­ sure inthe abstract-as ifitwere amonolithic negativeinfluence on adoles­ cents’. behavior. Wemust alsoknow theclimate of anadolescent’s peer crowd, thecharacteristics of hisorher close friends, and thevalues heldby the members of hisorher clique. IdentifYing anadolescent’s closefriends andclique mares is simple enough; wecan just askteenagers totell us who their bestfriends are and whom theyhang around with.Butwhat about the more amorphous peer crowds? How do we identifY the crowds thatinfluence youngsters’ behavior? In ordertoanswer thisquestion in our research,weorganized, ineach school, aseries of small “focus groups” composed of students whorepre­ sented across section of thestudent body.Inthese focus groups, weasked students ro talk abour themain crowds intheir school andto identifY stu­ dents whowere exemplary members of each of thecrowds. Although weconducted ourresearch in different parts of thecountry and in very different sorts of schools,wefound striking similarities inthe rypes of crowds thatwere identified ineach school. Let’slookfora moment atthis part of adolescent sociery. THE ADOLESCENT SOCIETY Allschools havecrowds thatemphasize socialstatus, socializing and popu­ larity, although inmost schools thisgroup of thesocially elite isdivided into two somewhat differentcrowds:”populars” (populariry-conscious students who have amoderately strongcommitment toacademic achievement but 143 BEYOND THE CLASSROOM reportmoderate involvement indelinquent behavior and illicitdrug use) and “jocks” (whoarequite similar to”populars,” but less academically ori­ ented, and not as involved indrug use-except for alcohol, whichtheyoften use toexcess). Counterbalanced againsttheseelitecrowds areone ormore alienated crowds-which are referred toby students as “druggies,” “burnouts,” “greasers,”andthelike. Along withheavy involvement indrug use and delinquent activities,members of thesecrowds tendtobe inatten­ tive toschoolwork and often hostile toward teachers andother school per­ sonnel. Finally,nearlyallschools havealarge, amorphous crowd,consisting of “average,” “norma!,” or “in-between” students whodonot distinguish themselves in anyparticular area-including school performance. In addition tothese elire,alienated, and average crowds, schoolsalso typically haveatleasr onegroup of high achievers-sa-called “brains” or “intellectuals”-students who thriveonacademics, fotgecloserelations with school staff, and avoiddrugs anddeviant activities. Mostschools also feature avety small, socially inept crowd-“loners” or”nerds,” as they ate often called-whose members aregenerally low in socialstatus and,conse­ quently, self-esteem. Although thenames of these crowds mayvaty from school toschool, or region toregion (e.g.,”populars” mightbecalled “preppies,” “stuck-ups,” or “””’d .” ‘hb alld”c 1″” “) C SOCles; rugglesmigt e c e rrea {S or stoners ,as Lar as we can tell,their existence is ubiquitous, atleast within publicschools. In racially mixed schools, wealso find crowds that aredefined primatily byethnicity, and only secondarily byother attributes. Forexample, someschools have crowds that ate characterized bystudents only as beingcomposed of Black students, or Vietnamese students, or Mexicanstudents, andsoon. Once we had assembled alist of crowds foreach of the schools wewere studying, weattempted tolocate eachstudent in thectowd structure of his at herschool. In order todo this, weasked adolescents ineach school to classifY other students, ratherthanthemselves, in theschool’s crowds.Wein­ terviewed severalpaits of students ineach school and asked them totell us which crowd each of theitclassmates wasapart of (we prompted them with class lists at yearbook pictures). By tepeatingthisexercise acrossnumerous pairs of tatets, wewete ableto identifY most students’ crowdaffiliation. Al­ though mostteenagers say that theythemselves ateunclassifiable, adoles- 144 THE POWER OF PEERS centshavesurprisingly littledifficulty in identifYing whichgroup(or groups) theirclassmates belong to. THE PREVAILING NORM: GETTING BY With thissocial mapinmind, then,whatdidour study tell us about the peer norms and standards operativewithinthetypical American school? Let’s begin bylooking atthe most common crowdsfoundinAmerican schools andwhat theystand for. As youwillsee,there isn’tmuch of aplace in the typical American highschool forstudents whoseprimary concern is academic excellence. The popularity-conscious, sociallyelitecrowds, whoseconcerns tend to revolvearound socializing, dating, and maintaining socialstatus among friends, accOunt forapproximarely 20percent of students inatypical high school. Students in thesecrowds maydowell enough toget bywithout ger­ ting into academic trouble, but theyrarely striveforscholastic excellence­ most of rheir grades are B’s. Another 20percent of students belong to oneor more of the alienated crowds,whereidentities arecentered arounddrugs, drinking, delinquency, ordefiance; thesestudents areopenly hostile to aca­ demics-on average, theyearn C’s.About 30 percent of students describe themselves as “average”-not especially opposed to academicpursuits,but not exactlystriving forsuccess, either;likerhose inthe social crowds, their grades hoveraround straight B’s. Andbetween 10 and 15 percent of stu­ dents belong toacrowd defined byethnicity, althoughthisfigure variescon­ siderably fromschool to school, depending on theschool’s ethnic composition. The extent to which members of ethnically definedpeer crowds areinvested in academics dependslargely on theparticular ethnic group inquestion, as I’ll explain laterinthis chapter. What about rheexplicitly academically oriented crowds-the “brains,” rhe “intellectuals,” and so on? Despite thefacr rhar these students are en­ rolledinmore difficult, moredemanding courses-many of them ralee hon­ ors and advanced-placement courses-they maintain an A- averagein school grades. Burwhereas some70percent of students belong to one of the solid-B, popularity-conscious elites,one of thelow-achieving, alienared crowds, or to thelarge mass of “average” students, less than 5percent of all 145 BEYOND THE CLASSROOM students are members of ahigh-achieving crowd that defines itself mainly on the basis of academic excellence. Not only is there little room in most schools for the academically ori­ ented, there issubstantial peerpressure on students tounderachieve. Adults might think that virtuallyallteenagers would rather do well in school than do poorly, but our studies suggest that this isnot necessarily the case.Tobe sure, the prevailing expectation among American teenagers isthat one ought to avoidfailing in school and do what ittal,es to graduate. But our surveys indicate that among American teenagers,there iswidespread peerpressure not to do too well. Forexample: •Although mostadolescents saythat their friends believe thatit isim­ portant tograduate fromhighschool (73%)and ro go tocollege (46%), fewer (32%) say thattheir friends thinkit isimportant to get goodgrades or ro go ro “one ofrhe best colleges inthe U.S.” (20%). Nearly as many (16%) say that their friends thinkir isimportanr thatthey be “willing to parry.” •One out of every sixstudents deliberately hideshis or herintelligence and interest indoing wellwhile inclass because they are “worried what theirfriends mightthink.” Onein five studenrs say their friends makefun of people whotry to do well inschool. • More thanone-half of all studenrs saythey almosr neverdiscuss their schoolwork withtheir friends. Morethanone-quarter saythey have never studied withtheir friends. Onlyonein five has studied withhisorher friends morethanfivetimes during thepast school year. •We asked theadolescents inour survey to tell us which crowdtheir friends belonged to andwhich crowd they’dmostliketo be apart of. When askedwhich crowd theywould mostlike to belong to, five times as many students saythe “populars” or “jocks” as saythe “brains.” Three times as many saythey would rather be “parryers” or “druggies” than “brains.” Of all of thecrowds, the”brains” were least happy withwhothey are-nearly halfwished they were inadifferent crowd. PEER INFLUENCES ON ACHIEVEMENT Although theprevailing norm in most high schools is,evidently, to “get by, without showing 0[£” there arepockets within each school in which aca­ 146 THE POWER OF PEERS demicachievement is admired, andothers inwhich ir is actively discour­ aged. These cliques andcrowds thatdefine ayoungster’s socialworld aresig­ nificant influences on thechild’s academic performance, becauseeachcrowd has itsparticulat set of normative standardsandexpectations forachieve­ ment and behavior inschool, andbecause adolescents attempttoconform to the norms andexpectations of their friends. As aconsequence, anindi­ vidual student’s schoolperformance willdepend inlatge measure onwhich crowd thestudent belongsto,and what thatcrowd’s expectations are fat be­ haviorinschool. Simply put,given several adolescents of equal scholastic ability, thosewhoaremembets of intellectual cliquesandcrowds will achieve moreinschool thanthose whoaremembers of the socially elite cliques andcrowds, andboth groups of adolescents willoutperform those who atemembers of alienated crowds. This seems reasonable enough, of course-it is hardlysurprising that membets of academically orientedcrowdsdobest inschool andmembers of alienated crowdsdoworst. Perhaps it ismerelythatstudents who choose to associate withbrainy classmates arethemselves moreacademically inclined, whereas thosethatselect friends fromthealienated crowdsatethemselves less oriented towardschool. Afterall,it is not as if adolescents are placed withindiffetent peergroups. How canwebecettain thatfriendships really affect students’schoolperfotmance, ratherthansimply reflect it. Do friends really influence each other-is itteally acase of “the company they keep”­ or isitsimply that”birds of afeather flocktogether”? By tracking students overathree-year period, we wereabletosee how they were doing inschool atthe beginning of thetime period, whichfriends they were spending timewith, andwhether theirschool performance and behavior changedovertime as aresult. By comparing theacademic careers of studentswhobegan highschool withequivalent grades, but whohaddif­ ferent sorts of friends duringtheschool years, we wereabletosee whether the type of ftiends thatadolescents haveactually makesadifference intheir school performance. The answer is thatitmost certainly does,especially intwo areas: aca­ demic performance anddelinquency. Youngsterswhosefriends weremore academically oriented-that is, whose friends hadhigher grades, spent mote timeonhomework, hadhigher educational aspirations,andwho were more involved inextracurricular activities-did better overthecourse ofhigh 147 BEYOND THE CLASSROOM schoolthanstudents whobegan school withsimilat tecotds but whohad less academically orientedfriends.Similarly, studentswhosefriends were more delinquent-who used more drugs and alcohol and whohadmore conduct problems-developed more problems themselves overtime than did adolescents whobegan thestudy withthesame behavior profile but who had friends whowete less delinquent. , These findings tell us, then,thatparents havelegitimate reason ro be concerned aboutthequalities and values of their children’s friends,espe­ cially during earlyadolescence, whensusceptibility topeer influence runs strong. There isalsoreason tobe concerned aboutthecharacteristics of the crowd towhich anadolescent belongs,sinceourstudy found thatthisin­ fluence matters, too.Allother things beingequal, adolescents whoaremem­ bers of more academically otientedcrowdsdobetter inschool thanorher students, whereasthosewhoaremembers of more alienared crowdsdo worse and ate more likely toget into trouble. How large adifference dofriends mal Let’s begin bylooking atthe first question: How dostudents endup in aspecific nichewithin theadolescent society? HOW ADOLESCENTS SORT THEMSELVES INTO CROWDS What isthesorting ptocess through whichsomeadolescents becomepart of the “brain” crowdandothers become “jocks”? What makes some students become “partyers” andothers “druggies”? Why doadolescents end upwith the particular circle of friendsthey have? The results of our studypointtothree sets of forces thatdetermine in which crowdanadolescent willendup: (I) theadolescent’s personalityand interests, which in partaredetermined bythe way thestudent hasbeen raised byhis orher parents; (2) thetypes of peer crowds available tothat stu­ dent inhis orher particular school;and(3)the tactics thatparents use to “manage” rheirchild’s friendships. Indescribing howthese threesets of forces worktogether, Ihave found ithelpful touse asort of astronautical metaphor thathasthree main parts: thelaunch, theterritoty, andthenavi­ gational plan. THE LAUNCH The firsrset of factors-the child’s personality andinterests-refers tothe general direction inwhich thechild is”launched” as parents prepare tosend the youngster onajourney through adolescence. When thechild is sixor seven, adolescence seemsadistant destination, butparents are already “aim­ ing” thechild toward certain goals-even if theythemselves are not fully aware of what theyaredoing. As aresult of this goal-setting, duringtheearly elementary schoolyears,asort of “launch ttajectory” is established forthe child, especially withregard toschool matters. Launching thechild on acer­ tain trajectory does not guarantee thatheorshe will reach aparticular des­ tination, buritdoes point thechild inageneral direction. At oneextreme arechildren whoarelaunched on aroute that isheaded in the general direction of educational excellence,instilledwirhvalues that 149 BEYOND THE CLASSROOM stressscholastic success, and whoareexpected tomake school achievement a top priority. In thechild’s upbringing, traitslikeperseverance, achieve­ ment motivation, and responsibility areemphasized, and parents put into place highstandards forachievement. At the other extreme arechildren whose launch trajectoty does not aimthechild toward schoolsuccess. The childmaybeaimed toward adifferent goalor,more likely, toward nospecific goal at all. Socialization inthese households maybeoverly permissive orin­ consistent, and parental expectations andperformance standardsareun­ clear. Between thesetwoextremes areother trajectories, whichvaryin the degree towhich theypoint thechild toward schoolsuccess and inthe strength and importance of schooling as an activity. THE TERRITORY Because peersplaysuch animportant roleininfluencing children’sday-to­ day behaviors oncetheyreach adolescence, theterritOlY intowhich achild islaunched-that is, the particular types of peers and peercrowds heorshe islikely to run into-is as important as thelaunch trajectory on whichthe child isinitially placed. Once achild becomes involvedwithacertain group of friends, thesepeers begin tohave an effect onhis orher behavior. Tocon­ tinue theastronautical metaphor,wecan think of peer crowds as sorts of “planets” towardwhichthechild islaunched. Once achild endsupinthe “orbit” of a given peergroup, thepower of that group keepsthechild within its orbit and encourages thechild toadopt acertain set of behaviors and out­ looks. The longer achild orbits around acertain group of friends, thetighter the rein thegroup has on thechild’s behavior, and the more established that behavior patternbecomes. We saw this quite clearly whenwelooked atadolescent drug use. The mostimportant determinant of anadolescent’s initialexperimentation with drugs-primarily alcohol and marijuana-is thehome environment. Spe­ cifically, adolescents aremore likely tobegin drinking and experiment with marijuana whentheycome fromhouseholds thatareexceptionally permis­ sive orinwhich theparents aredisengaged, andthey are less likely toexper­ iment withthese substances whentheirparents areauthoritative. This isnot very surprising. But it is thepeer group, and not thehome environment, that determines whetheranadolescent willprogress fromexperimentation ’50 THE POWER OF PEERS withdrugs toregular use.Adolescent “experimenters” whohaddrug-using friends werefarmore likely tobecome regularusersthanwere “experi­ menters” whosefriends were not usingalcohol orother drugs. Inother words, parental permissiveness ordisengagement maylaunch anadolescent in the direction of drug-using peergroups, but whether drugusebecomes a part of the adolescent’s regularpattern of behavior dependslargelyonthe peer group that he orshe joins. An adolescent fromapermissive familywho does not connect withadrug-using peergroup isunlikely toget into trou­ ble with drugs, despite thepermissive homeenvironment. We can apply thesame logictounderstanding thedual roles of parents and peers inschool achievement. Parentsmaylaunch theirchild on anaca­ demic trajectory, but ifthere isnoacademically orientedcrowdforthat stu­ dent toconnect upwith, thelaunching willhave little effect. On theother hand, ifthere are only academically orientedpeercrowds in agiven setting, what parents doathome, in terms of the trajectory theylaunch theirchild on, will mal To acertain extent, then,theimpact of thehome environment on the adolescent’s behaviorwilldepend toalarge measure onthe peer groups that inhabit theadolescent’s socialworld. Knowing thishelps us understand why the impact of parents on their children’s achievement, whilesignificant, is not all-powerful. Parentsmaysocialize achild inacertain direction, but whether thatsocialization willbe successful-that is, whether theadolescent will actually reachthedesired goal-will also depend onthe peer influences he orshe enCOunters duringthejourney. This,inturn, willdepend onwhich peers areavailable forthe child toassociate with, and howtheadolescent navigates amongthedifferent circles of classmates withinhisorher school. NAVIGATING THROUGH THE ADOLESCENT SOCIETY Although it istruethatparents have less of adirect effectontheir children during adolescence thanduring childhood, ourstudies showthatparents can have apowerful indirect effect bysteering thechild toward somepeer groups and away from others. Through suchpiloting, parentscanexert some control overthetypes of peers theirchild spends timewith and,con­ sequently, overthepeer influences to which theirchild isexposed. 151 BEYOND THE CLASSROOM Therearetwo chief ways inwhich parents dorhis. One way is byar­ tempring to exert some control overthechild’s choice of friends andout-of­ school activiries. This, of course, is difficultoncethechild hasentered adolescence, but itisnot impossible. Indeed,incontrast to the widely held view thatthere is little parents candowhen itcomes to influencing their child’s choice of friends, wefind inour research thatfamilies varyagreat deal in the extent towhich parents monitor andregulate theirchild’s friend­ ships. Moreimportant, parentswhoexercise greatercontrol overwhich peers theirchildren spendtimewith havechildren whodobetter in school and who are less likely to getinto trouble. A second, andpotentially morepowerful, wayinwhich parents influ­ encetheir child’s choice of friends isbyselecting thesettings inwhich their child willspend time-by living inone neighborhood as opposed to an­ other, bychoosing oneschool overanother, andbyinvolving thechild in certain rypes of after-school andweekend activities. This isreallyamatter of playing thepercentages, ttyingtomaximize thenumber of “good” peersa child comes intocontact withandminimizing thenumber of “bad” peerin­ fluences in rhe child’s environment. When parents maximize thenumber of good peers intheir child’s environment, rheyare less likely to need toexert control overtheir child’s choice of specific friends, sincetheodds aregood that bychance alonethechild willcome intocontact withpeers whoare likely to be positive influences onhis orher development. Inessence, al­ though parents can’tchoose theirchildren’s friends,theycaninfluence rheir child’s choices bydefining theavailable pool of possiblepeers. One waythat parents candothis is by malring sure thattheir child’s world is adequately populated withother children whothemselves havebeen raised inauthori­ tative families-families that, as Ihave explained, tend to producethemost well-adjusted children. WHY NEIGHBORHOODS MATTER Aclear example of thisphenomenon wasrevealed when we lookedathow neighborhoods affectchildren’s behaviorandperformance inschool. Be­ cause our sample was so large, we wereable to compare adolescents who went to the same school but lived in different neighborhoods withinthe 152 THE POWER OF PEERS school district.lWhat wefound was that adolescents who live inneighbor­ hoods inwhich alarge proportion of families areauthoritative performbet­ ter inschool andare less likely toget into trouble thanadolescents who come fromidentical home environments-and who go tothe same school-but who live inneighborhoods inwhich thepopulation of author­ itative families ismuchlower. Why wouldgrowing upinaparticular neighborhood matrer,aboveand beyond theinfluence of the home andschool environment? Becausewhere a family lives affects thepool of peers theirchild comes intocontact with, and this, inturn, influences thechild’s behavior. If youareagood parent and you live inaneighborhood withother goodparents, chancesarethat the lessons youhave tried so hardtoteach yourchild athome willberein­ forced whenyourchild comes intocontact withother children, andother adults, inthe community. I want tostress herethatchoosing a”good” neighborhood inwhich to settle andraise afamily is not thesame as choosing anaffiuent neighbor­ hood. Although, as ageneral rule,theprevalence of authoritative parenting rises, andthat of disengaged parenting falls, as onemoves upthe socioeco­ nomic ladder, parenting styleandfamily income arebyno means perfectly correlated. Withinanyparticular social class range,therefore, there is con­ siderable variability inhow children areraised, andit ispossible bothfora well-to-do familytoend upinaterrible neighborhood (so far as thequality of parenting isconcerned) andforafamily of more modest meanstoend up in aneighborhood thatprovides awonderful socialenvironment forchil­ dren. What specific factorsincrease thelikelihood thatagiven neighborhood will provide agood social environment forthe child? Basedonour research, parents shouldlookforahigh level of parental involvement inthe local schools, ahigh level of parental participation inorganized activitiesserving children (sportsprograms, artsprograms, etc.),andahigh level of parental monitoring andsupervision of children. Our research showsthatchildren who grow upinsuch neighborhoods farebetter. Even iftheir own parents are not especially involvedinschool, activeintheir child’s life,orvigilant su­ pervisors of their child’s activities, thechildren benefitfromcontact with peers whose parents havethese characteristics. Andforparents who are in- 153 BEYOND THE CLASSROOM valved,active, and vigilant, livinginacommunity inwhich there isahigh proportion oflike-minded parents gives anadded boost to thebeneficial ef­ fects of an authoritative homeenvironment. SCHOOL CHOiCE: CHOOSING SCHOOLS OR CHOOSING PEER GROUPS? Our findings on theimportance of peers as influences onadolescent achievement and behavior areinteresting inlight of current debates about school choice. Mostdebates aboutproposals toincrease parents’choice of schools-for example, tuitiontaxcredits, givingparents vouchers to usefor private schooltuition, orpermitting parents to chooseamong severalpublic schools withintheir area-have focused on theimpact of these policies on schools’ practices. Proponents of schoolchoice have argued thatpermitting parents to choose among schools-either among privateandpublic schools, or among onlypublic schools-will enhance schoolquality because itwill force schools tocompete witheachother. Opponents of school choicepro­ grams contend thatproviding parentswithvouchers touse forprivate schools willundermine thequality of public schools (bysiphoning resources out of schools’coffers and directlyintoparents’ hands). In addition, oppo’ nentsargue thatencouraging competitionamongpublicschools willulti­ mately widenthegap between goodschools and badones, sincethegood ones, overtime, willbecome moreselective and attract better and better students, whilethebad ones willultimately havetoserve alarger and larger proportion of ill-prepared students. An importantpart of thecase made byschool choiceproponents isthe observation thatstudents attending privateschools outperform thosein public schools. One of themost important elements of thisargument isthat the observed achievement differencebetweenprivate and publicschool stu­ dents persists evenafter talcing intoaccount thedifferent familyback­ grounds of these twogroups of students (as onewould expect, privateschool students, onaverage, comefrommore affluent families). The usualinter­ pretation of the achievement differentialbetweenstudents fromprivate schools and those frompublic ones isnot,then, thatthestudents attending the two lcinds of schools areinherently differentfromeachother, but that 154 THE POWER OF PEERS privateschools havehigher standards, morerigorous requirements, and morestrenuous disciplinary practices. AB aconsequence, it is argued,stu­ dentsattending privateschools takemore demanding courses,workharder, behave themselves better,and,ultimately, learnmore inschool andperform better on achievement resrs. An equallyplausible alternative, though, isthattheachievement differ­ ential between publicandprivate highschool students isnot due ro differ­ ences between theitfamilies or between theirschools, but ro diffetences between theirpeergroups. Compatisons that talce familybackground into account donot control forthe mote intangible facrorsthatdistinguish stu­ dents whoatesent ro private schoolfromthose whoattend publicschool, such as motivation, self-reliance, andtheknowledge thatone’s parents have made afinancial sacrificeforone’s education. Inall likelihood, studentswho attend private andparochial schoolsareexposed ro ahigher proportion of peerswithhigheducational aspirationsandgood study habits, andthis ex­ posure positively affectstheirownbehavior, entirelyindependent of thein­ structional climate of theschool. Although our studydid not include students fromprivate schools, our findings on theimportance of peers, as well as awealth of research onthe minimal effects of schooldifferences on student achievement, are consistent withthisinterpretation. When parents arechoosing aschool, theyare not only choosing aprin­ cipal, aschool facility, andafaculty. They are also choosing classmates-and potential friends-for their child. Our study suggests thatitmay bethis as­ pect of school choice-the choice of apeer group-that may bethe most important, andthat parents shouldkeepthisin mind when selecting a school fortheir child. ETHNIC DIFFERENCES IN ACHIEVEMENT: THE IMPORTANCE OF PEERS Our findings on theimportance of peers inadolescent achievement also bear directly on thequestion of ethnic differences in school performance. Remember, one of thepuzzles weencountered whenwelooked atthe role of thefamily inschool achievement wasrhat Asian parents didnot, on the surface, appear ro bedoing anything particularly specialthatwould account 155 BEYOND THE CLASSROOM fortheir children’s remarkable success,norwere Black parents doing anye thingnoteworthy thatwould explain theirchildren’s relativelyweakerper­ formance. Overall,Asianstudents in ourstudy wereperforming betterthan we would expectonthe basis of their parents’ practices, andBlack students were performing worse.Something inAsian students’ livesprotects them, even ifthey areexposed to less than perfect parenting, whilesomething in Black students’ livesundermines thepositive effects of parental involvement and authoritativeness. According to our study, this”something” is thepeer group. One clear reason forAsian students’ success is thatAsian students arefarmore likely than others tohave friends whoplace agreat deal of emphasis on academic achievement. Asian-American studentsare,ingeneral, significantly more likely to say that their friends believeit isimportant to dowell inschool, and significantly less likely than other students tosay that their friends placea premium on having an active sociallife. Not surprisingly, Asianstudents are the most likely to saythat they work hardinschool tokeep upwith their friends. Asian students’ descriptions of theirfriends as hardworking andaca­ demically orientedarecorroborated byinformation we gathered indepen­ dently from thefriends themselves. You mayrecall thatone of theunique features of our study was our ability tomatch information providedbyado­ lescents withinformation provideddirectlybytheir friends. Thisprovided us withamore accurate assessment of eachadolescent’s socialnetwork than would havebeen possible had we beenforced todepend onadolescents’ per­ ceptions of their friends’ behavior, sincesuchperceptions canbeerroneous (like adults, adolescents tend to overstate thedegree of similarity thatexists between theirfriends andthemselves). When welook atfriends’ activitypatterns foradolescents fromdifferent ethnic groups, we see quiteclearly thatthefriends with whom Asianstu­ dents socialize placearelatively greateremphasis onacademics thanother students do,whereas theopposite istrue forBlack andHispanic teenagers. Specifically, Asianstudents’ friendshavehigher performance standards(that is, theyhold tougher standards forwhat grades areacceptable), spendmore time onhomework, aremore committed toeducation, andearn consider­ ably higher grades in school. BlackandHispanic students’friendsearnlower 156 THE POWER OF PEERS grades,spend less timeontheir studies, and havesubstantially lowerperfor­ mance standards. Whitestudents’ friends fall somewhere betweenthesetwo extremes on these various indicators. When Ifirst sawthese findings, my presumption wasthat they were due entirely toracial segregation inadolescent peergroups. In other words, if Asian students areperforming better in school’than otherstudents, and Black and Hispanic studentsworse, and if peergroups areconstituted mainly alongethnic lines,itnecessarily followsthatAsian students willhave friends whoaredoing betterinschool, and Black and Hispanic studentswill have friends whoaredoing morepoorly. Itturns out thatthesegregation argument isonlypartly true.While it is certainly thecase thatadolescent peergroups arecharacterized byahigh de­ gree of ethnic segregation-about 80 percent of White and Black students, and more thanhalf of Asian and Hispanic studentshavebestfriends from the same ethnic group-there aresufficient numbers of cross-racial friend­ ships in any school toask whether thepattern described aboveholdsforstu­ dents whotravel inintegrated circles. The answer isthatitdoes, atleast for the most part.Even ifwelook solely atyoungsters whosebestfriends are from adifferent ethnicbackground, westill find thatAsian students’ friends place agreater emphasis on doingwellinschool, and Black andHispanic students’ friends,relatively less. Onceagain, White students fall somewhere in between. Peer pressure amongAsianstudents and theirfriends todo well in school isso strong thatanydeficiencies in thehome environment-for ex­ ample, parenting that iseithertooauthoritarian oremotionally distant-are rendered almostunimportant. It is, of course, truethatAsian students from authoritative homesperform better in schoolthanthose fromdisengaged ones. ButanAsian student whocomes fromaless-than-optimal homeenvi­ ronment is likely to be “saved” fromacademic failurebyfalling inwith friends whovalue academic excellence and providethenecessary supportfor achievement. Why is it so likelythatanAsian student will fall intoanacademically oriented peercrowd and benefit fromitsinfluence? Ironically,Asianstudent success isat least partly aby-product of the fact that adolescents do not have equal access to different peergroups inAmerican highschools. Asianstu- 157 BEYOND THE CLASSROOM dentsare”permitted” ro join intellectual crowds,likethe”brains,” but the more socially oriented crowds-the “populars,” “jocks,” and “parryers”-are far less open ro them.Forexample, whereas 37 percent of the White stu­ dents in our sample weremembers of one of these threesocially oriented crowds, only14percent of the Asian students were-even though more than 20percent of the Asian students saidthey wished they could bemem­ bers of these crowds (slightly less thanone-third of the White students as­ pired tomembership inone of these crowds). In essence, atleast some Asian students whowould like ro bemembers of nonacademically oriented crowds aredenied membership in them. A similar argument hasbeen advanced byseveral Asiansocialscientists in explaining theextraordinary success of Asian-American students.They have noted thatacademic success isone of thefew routes tosocial mobiliry open toAsians inAmerican culture-think for a moment of the relative ab­ sence of Asian-American entertainers,athletes,politicians, and so on.For Asian youngsters, whoseemost nonacademic pathwaystosuccess blocked off, they have “nochoice” but ro apply themselves in school. This is why Asian students are so much morelikely than other youngsters ro subscribe ro thebelief thatacademic failurewillbring terrible consequences. When individuals believethatthere arefew opportunities ro success through routes other than education, doingwellinschool becomes thatmuch moreim­ portant. Because Asianstudents finditmore difficult than White students ro breal{ inrothemore socially oriented crowds,theydrift roward academically focused peergroups whosemembers value and encourage scholasticsuccess. The result of thisdrift isthat alarge number of Asian students, eventhose who are less academically talentedthantheir peers, end upincrowds that are highly oriented towardsuccess in theclassroom. Onceinthese crowds, Asian students benefittremendously fromthenetwork of academically ori­ ented peers. Indeed, one of thestriking features of Asianstudent friendships is howfrequently theyturn to each other foracademic assistance andcon­ sultation. The opposite is true forBlack andLatino srudents, whoarefarmore likely thanother students to findthemselves in peer groups thatactually de­ value academic accomplishment. Indeed,peerpressure amongBlack and 158 THE POWER OF PEERS Latinostudents not toexcel inschool isso strong inmany communities­ even among middle-class adolescents-that manypositive stepsthatBlack and Latino patents havetaken tofacilitate theitchildten’s schoolsuccess are undermined. In essence, much of thegood work thatBlack and Latino par­ ents aredoing athome isbeing undone bycountervailing pressuresintheir youngsters’ peergroups. As aconsequence, parentaleffortsinthese ethnic groups do not havethepayoff thatwewould expect. This is true not onlyinracially integtated schools, but insegregated schools as well. In one well-known study of anall-black, inner-city high school, forexample, theresearchers foundthatstudents whotried todo well in school wereteased and openly ostracized bytheir peers for”acting White.” Students werecriticized-accused of acting as iftheywere “better” than their peers-if rheyearned goodgrades, exerted effortinclass, orat­ tempted toplease theirteachers. Thosewhowished todo well academically wete forced tohide their success andtodevelop othermeans of maintaining theit popularity amongclassmates in ordertocompensate forbeing good students, such as clowning aroundin class orexcelling insome athletic ac­ tivity. Why would Black and Latino peergroups demean academic success? In many minority peergroups, scholastic success is equatedwith”selling out” one’s cultural identity) as somesort of surrender tothe control of White, middle-class America. I found this so interesting thatIasked anextremely brighrAfrican­ American undergraduate inone of my seminars atTemple University, who was familiar with our research, tohelp mebetter undersrand rhisphenome­ non. The student saidthatthefinding rangtrueforher. Shehad been raised in dire poverty withininner-city Washington, D.C., and she was theonly one of her school friends tohave made itout of theghetto; as she explained, all of her former schoolmates wereeither on drugs, injail, onwelfare, or raising aninfant. Shewas torn about where shewould settleaftergraduat­ ing from college; thepull toreturn toher home community was verystrong, but shefelt that she’could nor face herformer friends. Whenever shere­ turned homeduring schoolvacations, she was tauntedforthinking too highly of herself and reased for not yethaving givenbirthtoachild. Shesaid that thepressure herfriends put onher over theyears todrop out of college and return toher roots was enormous. Infact, shesaid, herfriends inti- 159 BEYOND THE CLASSROOM matedthattheonly teason shehad gone off tocollege and avoided eatly pregnancy wasbecause shewas nOt physically attractiveenough to interesta man. Why is succeeding inschool equated insome circles with”acting “”hite” or”selling out”? As Signithia Fordham and John Ogbu,twoAfrican­ American socialscientists whohave studied thisphenomenon explain: [W]hite Ameticans traditionally refused to acknowledge rhatblack Amer­ icans are capable of intellectual achievement, and … blackAmericans subsequently began to doubttheir own intellectual ability, began to define academic success as whitepeople’s prerogative, andbegan to discourage their peers, perhaps unconsciously, fromemulating whitepeople inaca­ demic striving, i.e., from “actingwhite. One of my colleagues atthe University of Georgia, LayliPhillips, points out thatthis message-that academic success issomehow incompatible with a healthy Black identity-is perpetuated byamass media thatemphasizes and glorifies low-income African-American peerculture, malcingitattrac­ tive even tomiddle-class African-American youngsters.African-American parents whowant theirchildren to succeed inschool are not onlybattling the force of theBlack peerculture (whichinmany circles demeans academic success), but are fighting adifficult battleagainst thevery powerful images of anti-intellectual Blackyouth portrayed as normative in music, movies, and television. Weheard variations onthe “acting White” theme many,manytimes overthecourse of our interviews withhighschool students. The sadtruth is that many students, and many Blackstudents inparticular, areforced to choose between doingwell in school and having friends. Although thereare crowds withineachhigh school inwhich academic success isvaluedandin which successful studentsarerespected, thesecrowds tend to bedominated by W’hite students, and peer groups in American highschools are so ethni­ cally segregated thatit isextremely difficultforBlack and Latino students to jointhese crowds. Thus,inmany schools, there isanear-complete absence of identifiablepeergroups thatrespect and encourage academic success and aregenuinely open to BlackandLatino students. As aconsequence, it isfar’ 160 THE POWER OF’ PEERS moredifficult foratalented Mrican-American studentthanit isforacom­ parably skilledAsian at White student tofind thenecessary peersupport for achievement. Among thehigh-achieving Blackstudents inour sample, forexample, only 2percent saidtheir friends weremembers of the”brain” crowd, as op­ posed to8percent of the White students and10percent of the Asian stu­ dents withthesame grades inschool. Interestingly, theproportion of high-achieving Blackstudents whosaidthey wished they were members of the”brain” crowd(6percent) wasabout thesame as itwas for’ White stu­ dents (5 percent), Thus,whilejust as many Blackstudents asWhite students aspire toward membership inthe “brain” crowd,membership inthis group. ismore opento White thantoBlack students. It is important tounderstand thatthepressure againstacademic excel­ lence that ispervasive withinBlackandLatino peer gtoUpS isnotunique to these ethnic groups, Rather,whatwesee inthese peergroups isanextreme case of whar exists within most White peergtoupS as well. As noted earlier, the prevailing norminmost adolescent peergroups is one of “getting by without showing off”-doing whatittakes toavoid getting intotrouble in school, but at the same timeshunning academicexcellence. The chiefdif­ ference appears tobe not in the different ethnicgroups’ avoidance of excel­ lence-this iscommon amongall but theAsian youngsters-but in how the different ethnicgroups defineacademic “trouble,” We measured students’perception of this”trouble threshold” byasking them wharthelowest grade was thatthey could receive without theirparents getting angry, The students’ answerstothis question confirmed oursuspi­ cion: Among BlackandLatino students, not untiltheirgrades dipped below a C- did these adolescents perceivethatthey would getinto trouble, Among White students, however,theaverage “trouble threshold” was oneentire let­ ter grade higher-somewhere between a Band a C. And among Asianstu­ dents, theaverage ‘gradebelowwhich students expected rheirparents to become angrywasanastounding A-! One reasonforthe relatively poorer school performance of BlackandLatino students, then, is thatthese stu­ dents typically havedifferent definitions of “poor”grades, relative totheir White andAsian counterparts, And because peercrowds tendtobe ethni­ cally segregated, differentnormative standardsdevelopwithinBlackand 161 BEYOND THE CLASSROOM Latinopeergroups rhaninother crowds. Conversely, onereason forthe re­ markable success of Asian students isthatthey have amuch stricter, less for­ giving definition of academic failurethantheir Black, White, and Latino peers, and this definition shapespeernorms. Our findings suggest,then,thatalarge part of ethnic differences in high school achievement does not derivefromdifferences inthe ways in which parents fromdifferent ethnicgroups raisetheir children-that is, the “launch” theygetfrom thehome environment-but come instead fromdif­ ferences inthe peer environments-the “territory”-that youngsters from different backgrounds encounter. At atime in development whenchildren are especially susceptible tothe power of peer influence, thecircle of friends an adolescent canchoose frommay malce allthe difference betweenexcel­ lent andmediocre schoolperformance. 152 NOTES 119 MetLifesurvey.Metropolitan Life Survey of theAmerican Teacher, Violence inAmericas Public Schools: The Family Perspective (New York: MetLife, 1994). CHAPTER 7: THE HOME ENVIRONMENT OF ACADEMICALLY SUCCESSFUL STUDENTS PAGE 125 parental involvement wotks:Wendy Grolnick andMarcia Slowiaczek, “Par­ ents’ Involvement inChildren’s Schooling: AMultidimensional Concep­ tualization andMotivational Model,” ChildDevelopment 64(1994): 237-52; David Stevenson andDavid Baker,”TheFamily-School Rela­ tion andtheChild’s SchoolPerformance,” ChildDevelopment 58 (1987): 1348-57. 126 parents of successful students: See alsoAnnette Lareau, Home Advantage: So­ cial Class and Parental Intervention in Elementary Education (New York: FalmerPress, 1989). 129American parents’involvement: SusanChira, “Parents, TakeLess of aRole as Pupils Age,” The New York Times, September 5, 1994. 129 drop-off inparental involvement: StevensonandStigler, Learning Gap. CHAPTER S: THE POWER OF PEERS PAGE 139 The adolescent’s socialworld: B. Bradford Brown,”PeerGroups,” in S. Feld­ man andG.Elliott, eds., At the Threshold’ The Developing Adolescent (Cambridge: HarvardUniversity Press, 1990),171-96. 141 changes in.individuals’ susceptibility topeer pressure: Laurence Steinberg and Susan Silverberg, “TheVicissitudes of Autonomy inEarly Adoles­ cence,” Child Development 57(1986): 841-51. 142 Friends can inllu~nce eachother’s schoolperformance: Joyce L. Epstein, “The Inflllenc~ of Friends on Achievement andAffective Outcomes,” in J. Epsteinand N. Karwei:, eds., Friends in School (New York: Academic Press, 1983),177-200. 143 All schools havecrowds: Btown,”PeerGroups.” 149 three sets of forces: B. Bradford Btownetal., “Parenting PracticesandPeer GtoUP Affiliation inAdolescence,” Child Development 64(1993): 467-82. 207 NOTES 152 how neighborhoods affecrchildren’s behavior: Anne Fletcher et al., “The Company They Keep:Relation ofAdolescents’ Adjustment and Behavior toTheir Friends’ Perceptions ofAuthoritative Parentinginthe Social Net­ work,” Developmental Psychology 31 (1995): 300-310; Nancy Darling and Laurence Steinberg, “Community Influences on AdolescentAchieve­ ment and Deviance,” inG. Duncan, J.Brooks-Gunn, and L. Aber, eds., Community Influences on Childand Adolescent Development (New York: Russell SageFoundation, inpress). 158 one of the few routes to social mobility: Sue and Okazaki,”Asian-American Educational Achievement.” 159 students who tried to do well in school:Signithia Fordham and John Ogbu, “BlackStudents’ SchoolSuccess: Coping with theBurden of ‘Acting White,'” Urban Review 18 (1986): 176-206; see also Signithia Fordham, “Racelessness as aFactorinBlack Students’ SchoolSuccess: Pragmatic Strategy or PyrrhicVictory?” Harvard Educational Review 58 (1988): 54-84. 160 “[W]hite Americans tradirionally refused”:Fordham and Ogbu, “BlackStu­ dents’ School Success,” 177. CHAPTER 9: ALL WORK AND ALL PLAY MAKES JACK A DUMB BOY PAGE 165 The widespread employment of American high schoolstudents: SeeLau­ rence Steinberg and Elizabeth Cauffman, “The Impact of School-Year Employment on Adolescent Development,” in R.Vasta, ed., Annals of Child Development, vol. 11 (London: JessicaKingsley Publishers, 1995), 131-66; EllenGreenberger and Laurence Steinberg, When Teenagers Work: The Psychological and Social Costs ojAdolescent Employment (New York: BasicBooks, 1986). 171 working teenagers get less rest. Mary Carskadon, Mancuso,J., and Rosekind, M.,”Impact of Part-time Employment on Adolescent SleepPatterns,” Sleep Research 18(1989): 114. 172 The United States is the only country: Greenberger and Steinberg, When Teenagers Work. 174participation invarious extracurricular activities:Datafrom Laura Berk, “The Extracurriculum,” in P.Jackson,ed., Handbook ofResearch on Cur­ riculum (NewYork:Macmillan, 1992). 20B
Second paper
I It’s not only in newspaper headlines —it’s even on magazine covers. TIME , U.S. News & World Report and even Scientific American Mind have all run cover stories proclaiming that an incompletely developed brain accounts for the emotional problems and irrespon – sible behavior of teenagers. The assertion is driven by various stud – ies of brain activity and anatomy in teens. Imaging studies some – times show, for example, that teens and adults use their brains some – what differently when performing certain tasks. As a longtime researcher in psychology and a sometime teacher of courses on research methods and statistics, I have become in – creasingly concerned about how such studies are being interpreted. Although imaging technology has shed interesting new light on brain activity, it is dangerous to presume that snapshots of activity in certain regions of the brain necessarily provide useful information about the causes of thought, feeling and behavior. w w w . s c i a m m i n d . c o m S C I E N T I F I C A M E R I C A N M I N D 57 Myth The of the We blame teen turmoil on immature brains. But did the brains cause the turmoil, or did the turmoil shape the brains? Teen Brain By Robert Epstein P E T E R D A Z E L E Y G e t t y I m a g e s 58 S C I E N T I F I C A M E R I C A N M I N D A p r i l / M a y 2 0 0 7 This fact is true in part because we know that an individual’s genes and environmental histo – ry —and even his or her own behavior —mold the brain over time. There is clear evidence that any unique features that may exist in the brains of teens —to the limited extent that such features exist —are the result of social influences rather than the cause of teen turmoil. As you will see, a careful look at relevant data shows that the teen brain we read about in the headlines —the imma – ture brain that supposedly causes teen prob – lems —is nothing less than a myth. Cultural Considerations The teen brain fits conveniently into a larger myth, namely, that teens are inherently incompe – tent and irresponsible. Psychologist G. Stanley Hall launched this myth in 1904 with the publi – cation of his landmark two-volume book Ado – lescence . Hall was misled both by the turmoil of his times and by a popular theory from biology that later proved faulty. He witnessed an explod – ing industrial revolution and massive immigra – tion that put hundreds of thousands of young people onto the streets of America’s burgeoning cities. Hall never looked beyond those streets in formulating his theories about teens, in part be – cause he believed in “recapitulation” —a theory from biology that asserted that individual devel – opment (ontogeny) mimicked evolutionary devel – opment (phylogeny). To Hall, adolescence was the necessary and inevitable reenactment of a “savage, pigmoid” stage of human evolution. By the 1930s the recapitulation theory was com – pletely discredited in biology, but psychologists and the general public never got the message. Many still believe, consistent with Hall’s asser – tion, that teen turmoil is an inevitable part of human development. Today teens in the U.S. and some other West – ernized nations do display some signs of distress. The peak age for arrest in the U.S. for most crimes has long been 18; for some crimes, such as arson, the peak comes much earlier. On average, Amer – ican parents and teens tend to be in conflict with one another 20 times a month —an extremely high figure indicative of great pain on both sides. An extensive study conducted in 2004 suggests that 18 is the peak age for depression among people 18 and older in this country. Drug use by teens, both legal and illegal, is clearly a problem here, and suicide is the third leading cause of death among U.S. teens. Prompted by a rash of deadly school shootings over the past decade, many American high schools now resemble prisons, with guards, metal detectors and video monitoring systems, and the high school dropout rate is nearly 50 per – cent among minorities in large U.S. cities. But are such problems truly inevitable? If the turmoil-generating “teen brain” were a universal developmental phenomenon, we would presum – ably find turmoil of this kind around the world. Do we? In 1991 anthropologist Alice Schlegel of the University of Arizona and psychologist Herbert Barry III of the University of Pittsburgh reviewed research on teens in 186 preindustrial societies. A mong the important conclusions they drew about these societies: about 60 percent had no word for “adolescence,” teens spent al most all their time with adults, teens showed almost no sig ns of psychopatholog y, and antisocial b e h av ior i n you n g m a l e s wa s c o mpl e t e ly absent in more than half these cultu res and FA ST FAC TS Troubled Teens 1 >> Various imaging studies of brain activity and anatomy find that teens and adults use their brains somewhat differently when performing certain tasks. These studies are said to support the idea that an immature “teen brain” ac – counts for teen mood and behavior problems. 2 >> But, the author argues, snapshots of brain activity do not necessarily identify the causes of such problems. Culture, nutrition and even the teen’s own behavior all affect brain development. A variety of research in several fields sug – gest that teen turmoil is caused by cultural factors, not by a faulty brain. 3 >> Anthropological research reveals that teens in many cultures experience no turmoil whatsoever and that teen problems begin to appear only after Western schooling, movies and television are introduced. 4 >> Teens have the potential to perform in exemplary ways, the author says, but we hold them back by infantilizing them and trapping them in the frivolous world of teen culture. If the “teen brain” were a universal phenomenon, we would find teen turmoil around the world. ( ) w w w . s c i a m m i n d . c o m S C I E N T I F I C A M E R I C A N M I N D 59 extremely mild in cultures in which it did occur. Even more significant, a series of long-term studies set in motion in the 1980s by anthropolo – gists Beatrice Whiting and John Whiting of Har – vard University suggests that teen trouble begins to appear in other cultures soon after the intro – duction of certain Western influences, especially Western-style schooling, television programs and movies. Delinquency was not an issue among the Inuit people of Victoria Island, Canada, for ex – ample, until T V arrived in 1980. By 1988 the Inuit had created their first permanent police sta – tion to try to cope with the new problem. Consistent with these modern observations, many h istorians note t hat t h roug h most of recorded human history the teen years were a relatively peaceful time of transition to adult – hood. Teens were not trying to break away from adults ; rather they were learning to become adults. Some historians, such as Hugh Cunning – ham of the University of Kent in England and Marc Kleijwegt of the University of Wisconsin– Madison, author of Ancient Youth: The Ambi – guity of Youth and the Absence of Adolescence in Greco-Roman Society (J. C. Gieben, 1991), suggest that the tumultuous period we call ado – lescence is a very recent phenomenon—not much more than a century old. My own recent research, viewed in combina – tion with many other studies from anthropology, psychology, sociology, history and other disci – plines, suggests the turmoil we see among teens in the U.S. is the result of what I call “artificial extension of childhood” past puberty. Over the past century, we have increasingly infantilized our young, treating older and older people as chil – dren while also isolating them from adults. Laws have restricted their behavior [ see box on next page ]. Surveys I have conducted show that teens in the U.S. are subjected to more than 10 times as many restrictions as are mainstream adults, twice as many restrictions as active-duty U.S. Marines, and even twice as many restrictions as incarcer – ated felons. And research I conducted with Diane Dumas as part of her dissertation research at the California School of Professional Psychology shows a positive correlation between the extent to which teens are infantilized and the extent to which they display signs of psychopathology. The headlines notwithstanding, there is no question that teen turbulence is not inevitable. It is a creation of modern culture, pure and sim – C A T H E R I N E L E D N E R G e t t y I m a g e s In many Western cultures, teens socialize almost exclusively with other teens. ple —and so, it would appear, is the brain of the troubled teen. Dissecting Brain Studies A variety of recent research —most of it con- ducted using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology —is said to show the existence of a teen brain. Studies by Beatriz Luna of the depart- ment of psychiatry at the University of Pitts- burgh, for example, are said to show that teens use prefrontal cortical resources differently than adults do. Susan F. Tapert of the University of California, San Diego, found that for certain memory tasks, teens use smaller areas of the cor- tex than adults do. An electroencephalogram (EEG) study by Irwin Feinberg and his colleagues at the University of California, Davis, shows that delta-wave activity during sleep declines in the early teen years. Jay Giedd of the National Insti- tute of Mental Health and other researchers sug- gest that the decline in delta-wave activity might be related to synaptic pruning —a reduction in the number of interconnections among neu- rons —that occurs during the teen years. This work seems to support the idea of the teen brain we see in the headlines until we realize two things. First, most of the brain changes that are observed during the teen years lie on a con- tinuum of changes that take place over much of our lives. For example, a 1993 study by Jésus Pujol and his colleagues at the Autonomous Uni- versity of Barcelona looked at changes in the cor- pus callosum —a massive structure that connects the two sides of the brain —over a two-year pe- riod with individuals between 11 and 61 years old. They found that although the rate of growth declined as people aged, this structure still grew by about 4 percent each year in people in their 40s (compared with a growth rate of 29 percent in their youngest subjects). Other studies, con- ducted by researchers such as Elizabeth Sowell of the University of California, Los Angeles, show that gray matter in the brain continues to disap- pear from childhood well into adulthood. Second, I have not been able to find even a single study that establishes a causal relation between the properties of the brain being exam- ined and the problems we see in teens. By their very nature, imaging studies are correlational, showing simply that activit y in the brain is associated with certain behavior or emotion. As we learn in elementary statistics courses, 60 S C I E N T I F I C A M E R I C A N M I N D A p r i l / M a y 2 0 0 7 S O U R C E :T H E C A S E A G A I N S T A D O L E S C E N C E , B Y R O B E R T E P S T E I N ( Q U I L L D R I V E R B O O K S , 2 0 0 7 ) Rebels with a Cause Laws restricting the behavior of young people (un- der age 18) have grown rapidly in the past century, according to a survey by the author. He found that U.S. teens have 10 times as many restrictions as adults, twice as many as active – duty U.S. ma- rines and twice as many as incarcerated felons. 160 140 120 100 8060 40 20 0 Laws Restricting Teen Behavior 1700 1750 1800 1850 1900 1950 2000 Year l l l l l l l l l l l l l l l l l l l l l l l l l l l l l l l correlation does not even imply causation. In that sense, no imaging study could possibly identify the brain as a causal agent, no matter what areas of the brain were being observed.Is it ever legitimate to say that human behav – ior is caused by brain anatomy or activity? [See “Brain Scans Go Legal,” by Scott T. Grafton, Walter P. Sinnott-Armstrong, Suzanne I. Gazza – niga and M ichael S. Gazzaniga; Scie n t ific A m e r ic a n M i n d , December 20 06 / Januar y 2007.] In his 1998 book Blaming the Brain, neu – roscientist Elliot Valenstein deftly points out that we make a serious error of logic when we blame almost any behavior on the brain —especially when drawing conclusions from brain-scanning studies. Without doubt, all behavior and emotion must somehow be reflected (or “encoded”) in brain structure and activity; if someone is impul – sive or lethargic or depressed, for example, his or her brain must be wired to reflect those behav – iors. But that wiring (speaking loosely) is not nec – essarily the cause of the behavior or emotion that we see. Considerable research shows that a person’s emotions and behavior continuously change brain anatomy and physiology. Stress creates hypersen – sitivity in dopamine-producing neurons that per – sists even after they are removed from the brain. Enriched environments produce more neuronal connections. For that matter, meditation, diet, ex – ercise, studying and virtually all other activities alter the brain, and a new study shows that smok – ing produces brain changes similar to those pro – duced in animals given heroin, cocaine or other addictive drugs. So if teens are in turmoil, we will necessarily find some corresponding chemical, electrical or anatomical properties in the brain. But did the brain cause the turmoil, or did the turmoil alter the brain? Or did some other factors —such as the way our culture treats its teens —cause both the turmoil and the corresponding brain properties? w w w . s c i a m m i n d . c o m S C I E N T I F I C A M E R I C A N M I N D 61 E R I K D R E Y E R G e t t y I m a g e s Young people have extraordinary potential that is often not expressed because teens are infantilized and isolated from adults. (The Author) ROBERT EPSTEIN is a contributing editor for Scientific American Mind and the former editor in chief of Psychology Today. He received his Ph.D. in psychology from Harvard University and is a longtime researcher and professor. His latest book is called The Case against Adolescence: Redis – covering the Adult in Every Teen (Quill Driver Books, 2007) . More informa – tion is at Studies of intelligence, perception and memory show that teens are in many ways superior to adults . ( ) 62 S C I E N T I F I C A M E R I C A N M I N D A p r i l / M a y 2 0 0 7 Unfortunately, news reports —and even the re – searchers themselves —often get carried away when interpreting brain studies. For instance, a 2004 study conducted by James Bjork and his col – leagues at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, at Stanford University and at the Catholic University of America was said in various media reports to have identified the biological roots of teen laziness. In the actual study, 12 young people (ages 12 to 17) and 12 somewhat older people (ages 22 to 28) were monitored with an MRI device while performing a simple task that could earn them money. They were told to press a button after a short anticipation period (about two seconds) following the brief display of a symbol on a small mirror in front of their eyes. Some symbols indicated that pressing the button would earn money, whereas others indicated that failing to respond would cost money. After the anticipation period, subjects had 0.25 second to react, after which time information was displayed to let them know whether they had won or lost. Areas of the brain that are believed to be in – volved in motivation were scanned during this session. Teens and adults were found to perform equally well on the task, and brain activity dif – fered somewhat in the two groups —at least dur – ing the anticipation period and when $5 (the maximum amount that could be earned) was on the line. Specifically, on those high-payment tri – als the average activity of neurons in the right nucleus accumbens —but not in other areas that were being monitored —was higher for adults than for teens. Because brain activity in the two groups did not differ in other brain areas or un – der other payment conditions, the researchers drew a very modest conclusion in their article: “These data indicate qualitative similarities over – all in the brain regions recruited by incentive pro – cessing in healthy adolescents and adults.” But according to the Long Island, N.Y., news – paper Newsday, this study identified a “biological reason for teen laziness.” Even more disturbing, lead author James Bjork said that his study “tells us that teenagers love stuff, but aren’t as willing to get off the couch to get it as adults are.” In fact, the study supports neither statement. If you truly wanted to know something about the brains of lazy teens, at the very least you would have to have some lazy teens in your study. None were identified as such in the Bjork study. Then you would have to compare the brains of those teens with the brains of industrious teens, as well A N D R E W R U L L S T A D T h e A m e s T r i b u n e / A P P h o t o (t o p ) ; B I L L P U G L I A N O G e t t y I m a g e s N e w s (b o t t o m ) Elected achievers : Sam Juhl, 18, mayor of Roland, Iowa and Michael Sessions, now 19, mayor of Hills – dale, Mich. w w w . s c i a m m i n d . c o m S C I E N T I F I C A M E R I C A N M I N D 6 3 as with the brains of both lazy and industrious adults. Most likely, you would then end up find – ing out how, on average, the brains in these four groups differed from one another. But even this type of analysis would not allow you to conclude that some teens are lazy “because” they have faulty brains. To find out why certain teens or certain adults are lazy (and, perforce, why they have brains that reflect their lazy tendencies), you would still have to look at genetic and environ – mental factors. A brain-scanning study can shed no light. Valenstein blames the pharmaceutical indus – try for setting the stage for overinterpreting the results of brain studies such as Bjork’s. The drug companies have a strong incentive to convince public policymakers, researchers, media profes – sionals and the general public that faulty brains underlie all our problems —and, of course, that pharmaceuticals can fix those problems. Re – searchers, in turn, have a strong incentive to con – vince the public and various funding agencies that their research helps to “explain” important social phenomena. The Truth about Teens If teen chaos is not inevitable, and if such dif – ficulty cannot legitimately be blamed on a faulty brain, just what is the truth about teens? The truth is that they are extraordinarily competent, even if they do not normally express that compe – tence. Research I conducted with Dumas shows, for example, that teens are as competent or virtu – ally as competent as adults across a wide range of adult abilities. And long-standing studies of in – telligence, perceptual abilities and memory func – tion show that teens are in many instances far superior to adults. Visual acuity, for example, peaks around the time of puberty. “Incidental memory” —the kind of memory that occurs automatically, without any mnemonic effort, peaks at about age 12 and declines through life. By the time we are in our 60s, we remember relatively little “incidentally,” which is one reason many older people have trou – ble mastering new technologies. In the 1940s pioneering intelligence researchers J. C. Raven and David Wechsler, relying on radically differ – ent kinds of intelligence tests, each showed that raw scores on intelligence tests peak between ages 13 and 15 and decline after that throughout life. Although verbal expertise and some forms of judgment can remain strong throughout life, the extraordinary cognitive abilities of teens, and especially their ability to learn new things rap – idly, is beyond question. And whereas brain size is not necessarily a good indication of processing ability, it is notable that recent scanning data col – lected by Eric Courchesne and his colleagues at the University of California, San Diego, show that brain volume peaks at about age 14. By the time we are 70 years old, our brain has shrunk to the size it had been when we were about three. Findings of this kind make ample sense when you think about teenagers from an evolutionary perspective. Mammals bear their young shortly after puberty, and until very recently so have members of our species, Homo sapiens. No mat – ter how they appear or perform, teens must be incredibly capable, or it is doubtful the human race could even exist. Today, with teens trapped in the frivolous world of peer culture, they learn virtually every – thing they know from one another rather than from the people they are about to become. Isolated from adults and wrongly treated like children, it is no wonder that some teens behave, by adult stan – dards, recklessly or irresponsibly. Almost without exception, the reckless and irresponsible behavior we see is the teen’s way of declaring his or her adulthood or, through pregnancy or the commis – sion of serious crime, of instantly becoming an adult under the law. Fortunately, we also know from extensive research both in the U.S. and else – where that when we treat teens like adults, they almost immediately rise to the challenge. We need to replace the myth of the immature teen brain with a frank look at capable and savvy teens in history, at teens in other cultures and at the truly extraordinary potential of our own young people today. M (Further Reading) ◆ Blaming the Brain: The Truth about Drugs and Mental Health. Elliot S. Valenstein. Free Press, 1998. ◆ The End of Adolescence. Philip Graham. Oxford University Press, 2004. When we treat teens like adults, they almost immediately rise to the challenge . ( )

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