Adolescence, Unit Four- HSC English 1st Paper Passage

Mohammed Ahsan

Unit Four 


Adolescence, Unit Four- HSC English 1st Paper Passage

 Lesson 1
The Storm and Stress of Adolescence

  • What age group do you belong to? (16-17, 18-21, 22-23).
  • Do you think you are old enough to face the world?
  • Do you ever feel that people do not pay you much attention because of your age? Why?

i. Children must pass through several stages in their lives to become adults. For most people, there are four or five such stages of growth where they learn certain things: infancy (birth to age 2), carly childhood (3 to 8 years), later childhood (9 to 12 years) and adolescence (13 to 18 years). Persons 18 and over are considered adults in our society. Of course, there are some who will try to act older then their years. But, for the most part, most individuals have to go through these stages irrespective of their economic or social status.

ii. World Health Organisation (WHO) identifies adolescence as the period in human growth and development that occurs after childhood and before adulthood. This phase represents one of the critical transitions in one's life span and is characterised by fast paced growth and change which are second only to those at infancy. Biological processes drive many aspects of this growth and development with the onset of puberty marking the passage from childhood to adolescence. The biological determinants of adolescence are fairly universal; however, the duration and defining characteristics of this period may vary across time, cultures, and socio-economic situations. This period has seen many changes over the past century-puberty for example, comes earlier than before, people mary late, and their sexual attitudes andbehaviours are different from their grandparents, or even parents. Among the facturs respocerible for the change are education, urbanization and spread of global communication.

iii. The time of adolescence is a period of preparation for adulthood during which one experience several key developments. Besides physical and sexual maturation, these experiences include movement toward social and economic independence, development of identity, the acquisition of skills needed to carry out adult relationships and roles and the capacity for abstract reasoning. While adolescence is a time of oftremendous growth and potential, it is also a time of considerable risks during which social contexta axert powerful influences.

iv. Many adolescents face pressure to use alcohol, cigarettes, or other drugs and to initiate sexual relationships putting themselves at high risk for intentional and wintentional injuries, unintended pregnancies, and sexually transmitted infections (STT), including the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Many also experience a wide range of adjustment and mental health problems. Behaviour patterns that are established during this period such as the use or avoidance of drugs and taking or abstaining from sexual risk can have long-lasting negative and positive effects an future health and well-being. As a result, adults have unique opportunities to influence adolescents.

v. Adolescents are different both from young children and adults. Specifically, adolescents are not fully capable of understanding complex concepts, or the relationship between behaviour and consequences, or the degree of control they have or can have over health decision-making, including that related to sexual bebsviour. This inability may make them particularly vulnerable to sexual exploitation and high-risk behaviours. Laws, customs, and practices may also affect adolescents differently than adults. For example, laws and policies often restrict adolescents' access to reproductive health information and services, especially when they are unmarried. In addition, even when services do exist, provider attitudes about adolescents often pose a significant barrier to the use of those services.

vi. Adolescents depend on their families, their communities, schools, health services and their workplaces to learn a wide range of skills that can help them to cope with the pressures they face and make a successful transition from childhood to adulthood. Parents, members of the community, service providers, and social institutions have the responsibility to both promote adolescent development and adjustment and to intervene effectively when problems arise. 

Lesson 2
 Adolescence and Some (Related) Problems in Bangladesh

i. Adolescents constitute a nation's core resource for national renewal and growth. Adolescence is a period in life when transition from childhood to adulthood takes place and behaviours and life styles are shaped. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), adolescence is the period which shapes the future of girls' and boys' lives. There are 28 million adolescents in Bangladesh; 13.7 million of them are girls and 14.3 million boys.

ii. The situation of adolescent girls in Bangladesh in characterised by inequality and subordination within the family and society. This inequality leads to widespread practice of child marriage, marginalisation or exclusion from health, education and economic opportunities, and vulnerability to violence and sexual abuse.

iii. In Bangladesh, the legal age of marriage is 18 for girls and 21 for boys. However, 33 percent of adolescent girls are married before the age of 15 and 60 percent become mothers by the age of 19. Research finds that adolescents with higher level of education and from more affluent families tend to marry at a later age. Boys, however, become ready for marriage only after several years of adolescence and young adulthood.

iv. When a girl gets married, she usually drops out of school and begins full-time work in her in- laws' household. In the in-laws' house, she is marginalized. She becomes vulnerable to all forms of abuse, including dowry-related violence. In Bangladesh, it is still common for a bride's family to pay dowry, despite the practice being illegal. Dowry demands canalso continue after the wedding. For an adolescent bride, even if her in-laws are supportive, there are significant health risks in terms of pregnancy and child birth. The majority of adolescent brides and their families are uninformed or insufficiently informed about reproductive health and contraception. The maternal mortality rate for adolescents is double the national rate.

v. When adolescent girls are pulled out of school, either for marriage or work, they often lose their mobility, their friends and social status. The lack of mobility among adolescent girls also curtails their economic and non-formal educational opportunities. Moreover, they lack information about health issues. According to a study, only about three in five adolescents have even heard of HIV. It is also reported that more than 50 percent of adolescent girls are undernourished and suffer from anaemia. Adolescent fertility is also high in Bangladesh. The contribution of the adolescent fertility rate to the total fertility rate increased from 20.3% in 1993 to 24.4% in 2007. Moreover, neonatal mortality is another concern for younger mothers. 

Vi. While the situation for adolescent boys is somewhat better, many are vulnerable and lack the power to make decisions about their own lives. Many boys who are unable to go to school, or are unemployed, remain unaware of social or health issues. They are at considerable risk of being drawn into criminal activities. They are also more likely to get exposed to drugs and alcohol.

Lesson 3
Why Does a Child Hate School?

Children's right to education is widely recognized today as a fundamental human right. But that right also implies that the school they go to will have a pleasant and learning-friendly environment where everyone will have an enjoyable time. Teachers will be kind, caring and supportive and children will feel relaxed. No harsh words will be spoken to them and special care will be taken of children with learning disabilities.

That, unfortunately is not the general picture in our schools. The system of education in our part of the world does not allow children much freedom, and classrooms look more like cages where they are pent up for hours. Rabindranath Tagore found it unacceptable; so did William Blake (1757-1857), an English poet and painter, whose favourite subjects included children. In his poem "The School Boy" Blake writes about a young boy who is unhappy with his school where dour-faced teachers give joyless leassons. He would rather like to be outdoors and enjoy the summer day. He pleads with his parents to rescue him from the drudgery of school.

"The Schoolboy' by William Blake

I love to rise in a summer morn, 
When the birds sing on every tree; 
The distant huntsman winds his horn, 
And the skylark sings with me:
 O what sweet company!

But to go to school in a summer morn, -
 O it drives all joy away!
 Under a cruel eye outworn, 
The little ones spend the day 
In sighing and dismay.

Ah then at times I drooping sit,
 And spend many an anxious hour;
 Nor in my book can I take delight,
 Nor sit in learning's bower,
 Worn through with the dreary shower.

How can the bird that is born for joy
 Sit in a cage and sing? 
How can a child, when fears annoy,
 But droop his tender wing,
 And forget his youthful spring!

O father and mother if buds are nipped, 
And blossoms blown away;
 And if the tender plants are stripped
 Of their joy in the springing day,
 By sorrow and care's dismay,-

How shall the summer arise in joy, 
Or the summer fruits appear? 
Or how shall we gather what griefs destroy, 
Or bless the mellowing year,
 When the blasts of winter appear?

Lesson 4
 The Story of Shilpi

Shilpi was only 15 years old when she married Rashid in 2008. Marrying off daughters at an early age is a standard practice for many families living in rural Bangladesh. After her wedding, Shilpi joined a local empowerment group that provides adolescent girls with the tools needed to gradually change cultural practices, particularly those pertaining to early marriage and pregnancy. The group's activities include discussions on how to most effectively change behaviour related to reproductive health as well as one-on-one counselling. It also offers peer-to-peer support and life skills training that help adolescents say no to early marriage. The empowerment group is one of more than 10,000 groups supported by some local Non Government Organizations (NGOs) working all over Bangladesh. These NGOs work through Canada's Adolescent Reproductive Health Project which also sims to increase secess to quality health services for adolescents. During one of the group sessions, Shilpi came to understand the potentially harmful effects of early marriage and pregnancy.

While maternal mortality in Bangladesh has declined by more than 50 percent since 2001, the rate remains high with 173 maternal deaths per 100,000, live births in 2017-dropping from 322 in 2001. Girls who get pregnant are at risk of serious health complications. These include dangerous hemorrhage and fistula, a painful internal injury caused by obstructed childbirth that commonly leads to serious maternal morbidities and social exclusion.

When Shilpi heard about those risks, she invited her husband, Rashid, to discuss pregnancy with a counsellor. After hearing about the risks, Rashid agreed to delay having children for five years despite pressures from his parents and neighbours to produce an offspring. Together, the couple met with a female health care provider, who informed them about the various family planning options available.

Shilpi's mother-in-law and neighbours continued to pressurize the newlyweds. Deeply rooted cultural practices and traditions caused a rift between Shilpi and Rashid and their extended family, some of whose members insulted and criticized the couple. Unable to convince their close relatives of the risks, Shilpi and Rashid returned to the counsellor. They took the help of a parent peer who had been trained to speak to other parents about adolescent issues. Shilpi's mother-in-law and neighbours eventually came to understand the harmful effects of early pregnancy on mother and child.

After that, the villagers no longer pressurized the couple; their parents and neighbours began to support them and speak out against early marriage and pregnancy.

Lesson 5 
Say 'No' to Bullying

The situation you are facing is commonly known as cyber bullying. It is basically an act done by a person(s) against another person(s) by using electronic communication, e.g. social media. A few examples of cyber bullying are- causing someone harm by posting unwanted or private information, threatening a person by sending mean messages via emails, social networking websites, text or audio messages, spreading rumours via email or social networking sites, sharing private/embarrassing pictures, creating fake profiles, etc.

In Bangladesh, cyber bullying is not just an act to be scorned at but is an offence punishable under the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Act 2006. The Act, inter alia, provides that a person who deliberately publishes, in a website or in electronic form, any material which is fake and obscene or has the effect of corrupting persons who are likely to read, see or hear the material or causes to prejudice the image of a person or may hurt religious belief or instigate against any person, then the person publishing the material will be guilty of an offence under the Act. The punishment for such an offence is imprisonment and/or fine.

Victims of cyber crimes (including cyber bullying) can lodge a complaint to the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) by calling at +880-29611111 or by emailing at BTRC is supposed to take necessary actions within 24 hours and the perpetrators will be brought to justice within 3 days after the complaint is filed. The government has also launched a cyber-crime helpline. Victims can call at +8801766678888 to submit their complaints.

Furthermore, if the harassment amounts to criminal intimidation (threatening someone with injury to his/her person, reputation, property etc.), then the perpetrator may be liable to punishment as per the Penal Code 1860.

The steps mentioned above should definitely be taken if the matter is serious. An important first step is the internal reporting process of the particular social media website or application. If we take Facebook, for example, photos and comments can be reported and the particular user can be blocked. Similar reporting systems are in place in most other popular social media websites or applications.


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