A number of social problems crop up in the period of adolescence. The social contacts of the person expand from infancy to maturity. In infancy a child's social contacts are with one person, usually its mother. From the early childhood onwards the mother-child relationship normally expands as the child comes into contact with the other members of family.
When the child moves outside his family circle, he establishes contact with other children of his own age. When he takes admission in the school the peer group expands because now the child is free to choose his own friends and associates.
Here he meets his teacher. As he enters adolescence he becomes a part of the gag, whatever be the stage of development of other people from his social environment. Adolescence is the stage of development which produces a number of problems for the person. These problems arise out of the adolescent's adjustment with following social groups:
(c) Associates of one's own sex; and
(d) Associates of the other sex.
Social Problems Rose by the Parents:
During adolescent years the boy or girl tends to develop interests for groups outside the family. The youngsters commonly have misgivings about the changes that are taking place in their interests. On the one hand, they feel joy in being dependent upon their parents and on the other; the experiences with their peers are also pleasant. The peer group attracts them a greater force, because it offers them esteem and status which is either lacking in the family or is not got there at all.
Parents generally complicate the problem by placing demands on the adolescent sons or daughters. When they come to know that the relationship between them and their children is about to change, when they find that their children are becoming more rebellious, less responsive, and less involved in the life of the family they feel threatened.
Every father or mother thinks that his son or daughter is a psychological extension of himself, and when the adolescent slips along into the outside world, he or she feels that he or she is losing a part of himself or herself. As the adolescent becomes more independent he needs not so much care, direction, and attention of his parents, which parents still think necessary for his existence and well-being.
The emotionally insecure parents are Unable to face and accept this fact. The adolescent may feel the need of parental love, care and attention at certain times, but he is so proud of himself that he does not want to accept these things. He looks upon any form of dependence as a sign of weakness. This is the reason why there is a conflict going on between the adolescent and his parents.
The conflict is of the approach avoidance type (as will be discussed in section 14.8); it is so because he wants love and direction, at the same time wants to be strong and self-sufficient enough not to need love and direction. The adolescent resolves such a conflict by making decisions which are not in his interest and defends them stubbornly and rebelliously in the face of all adult opposition.
The loyalties of the adolescent are now divided between the family and the peer group. This division causes tension and anxieties in the adolescent and creates differences between him and his parents. The struggle that goes on within the adolescent is seldom known to most parents. The struggle is caused by his attempt to live in accordance with a double standard composed of the expectations of his parents and those of his associates.
How to Solve Social Problems Rose by the Family:
Social problems which have a root in the relationship between the adolescent and his parents arise because the two do not understand each other sympathetically. The parents believe in' the efficacy of greater control and direction.
The adolescent wants more independence but he also wants his parents to tell him what to do. The parents want to give more direction and control but at the same time require him to think and act for himself. There is dilemma, and the inconsistency is not soluble and therefore it creates difficulties for both.
The mutual problems should be discussed by the parents and the adolescents frankly. It is very unfortunate what whenever the two parties try to clarify the issues through discussions heated arguments are advanced by each to defend its own point of view.
The adolescent who is in conflict with the family tries to seek social satisfaction outside the home, but he does get sufficient success in his attempt. If he wants to become successful outside the family he should have emotional support and acceptance within the family.
Problems of Adjustment with the School:
The average adolescent tries to run away from home, though economically and vocationally he is yet not able to leave it. It is the school where he can be away from home for a particular length of time in the day.
It is in the school also where he can mix with associates in the study-hall, in the classroom, on the playground and on the streets. If the school does not organise social gatherings like excursions, outings, trips, and if there is no arrangement for social development, the adolescent does not find the school a satisfactory place. Consequently, he becomes a truant.
If the school wants that the pupils should find joy and satisfaction, pleasure and happiness it should organise social activities in its premises. These activities, if wisely directed, tend to develop social maturity in the adolescents. Maximum participation in curricular activities like evening games and sports, plays and dramatics and student councils will inculcate better social interests, skills and attitudes.
Social Problems of Adjustment with Associates of One's Own Sex:
Why does a boy belonging to upper class or higher caste family not like to mix with the one of lower class family? Why is a particular boy not popular? Why does a boy like a particular boy and not others? These are some of the problems raised when the adolescent tries to mix with the associates of his own sex.
So long as he is a child he does not have such problems. Children of different socioeconomic status work and play with each other. But the social distance increases in the adolescence period. Upper class boys do not like to make friendship with boys of lower class.
In the society of adolescents there are many who are not popular, who do not belong, and who are occasional. It is strange to find isolates everywhere. Isolates are boys and girls who regard others their best friends but are disregarded by them. The adolescents who are thus rejected become quarrelsome or unduly sensitive. On the other hand, those who are liked seem to be cheerful, humorous and lively.
Social Problems of Adjustment with the Other Sex:
The adolescence is the stage when interest in the other sex is developed as a result of certain physical developments. The perennial topics of conversation among boys or among girls are sex and the opposite sex.
They try to learn about sex from each other; often, they do help each other but such help is fraught with difficulties. Hence, there is a need for sex education at this stage. It is this stage when the youngsters try to discover the other sex. At first the boys and girls do not know what to make of each other and how to get along together.
The boy now sees the neighbour girl in a new way. She is now really a different person from what she was when both of them were of twelve-year's age. If he develops healthy relations with her he is in a happy position. If he does not achieve a satisfactory adjustment to the other sex, he may have difficulties in marriage. He may have other social problems also.
The boy who cannot establish happy relations with girls may withdraw from their associations. If he becomes too interested in the other sex and goes too far he may cause scandal. If the adolescent boy withdraws from association with girls he will become mentally unhealthy. Marriage becomes either impossible or likely to be unhappy for the introverted youngster who does not have healthy normal associations with the other sex.
Adolescent girls try to attract adolescent boys. The increasingly do thing which may catch and sustain the attention of the other sex. They are more active because of their earlier sex maturity.
Many girls, who find the boys of their own age sexually not so mature and responsive, try to seek attention from older boys. As sex maturity among boys and girls occurs at different ages, in a complicated and rapidly changing social situation the adolescents find it difficult to make social adjustment with the other sex.
Education and Social Maturity:
The teacher who has to guide the adolescent facing social problems will have to understand the social liabilities and assets. He has to find out the relationships between the adolescent on the one hand and his parents, the peer group, and the school on the other.
The teacher has to make a close study of the quiet, commonplace youngster who is rejected by his group or the other sex. If she teacher wants to understand the adolescents and develop them socially he may do the following.
(a) Know the settings and backgrounds of the adolescents.
(b) Make an appraisal for their social status.
(c) Plan a broad social programme to meet the needs of all.
(d) Teach them an informal applied Social Psychology directly or indirectly.
The first step in helping the adolescent achieve social maturity is to gather information about his settings and backgrounds. It is, therefore, necessary that the teacher should try to find out whether or not a particular boy or girl takes part in social activities, whether or not he or she belongs to a team, a society, or a council. Early or late maturing, higher or lower socio-economic status of the family may be influencing his or her social maturity.
The teacher has to investigate the causes of social maladjustment. He should then plan a social programme comprehensive enough to meet the needs of all adolescents. As some of the problems arise in the school environment, he may produce good social atmosphere in the school for adequate social development. But most of the social problems arise out of the school, in the family, in the group, in the relations with the other sex.
To solve these problems an active co operation of the parents and the society has to be sought so that desirable social adjustment may be fostered. Regular RT. A. meetings, conferences between parents and adolescents, healthy associations of one sex with the other, active participation by both boys and girls in the school and community functions may go a long way in helping the adolescents achieve social maturity.
The teacher his subject; the boys or girls learn it. But of greater importance than teaching and learning of the particular subject in the classroom is the development of social maturity. The first thing needed for that is a good-humoured, relaxed, friendly, social climate in the class.
Where socialized activity programmes as group games, scouting and guiding, debates and dramatics, run regularly and where students take part in them freely, social maturity is developed as desired. Social adjustment or social maturity may be developed through a direct or indirect instruction in informal applied social psychology.
It is said that adolescents are inept and out-of-place socially. There is little doubt about it. Some adolescents do lack in social skills considered desirable by adults. This social out-of-place-ness is, however, due to their lack of experience and self-consciousness.
The educational implication of the fact is that adult judgment should be allowed to measure their aptness or ineptness in social skills. The adolescents should be provided with experience in social skills. When the youth is given a chance to express himself in the class, he expresses himself in the public.