An Agenda for the Integration of Research and Policy During Early Adolescence
Ruby Takanishi Carnegie Council on Adolescent Development
In policy discussions, early adolescence is a developmental phase caught between early childhood and late adolescence. Since the 1970s, the critical importance of the early childhood years, including the prenatal period, has risen steadily on the public policy agenda (U.S. General Accounting Office, 1990). The youth policy agenda is still dominated by late adolescence, specifically concerns about transition from school into the workplace. Thus, debates rage over national educational standards and examinations, vocational education, and job training and employment programs. Early adolescence, although gaining some visibility because of the realization that adolescent problems occur at earlier ages ( Carnegie Council on Adolescent Development, 1989), is still in the foreground in discussions about policy development for children and youth.
As an observer of efforts since the 1970s to place early childhood education and child care higher on the national agenda, I believe we must take a long-term view regarding policy development and young adolescents. Considerable time is needed for any developmental period to gain ascendance on the policy agenda; most importantly, steady work leads to concrete results.
As a necessary, but not sufficient prerequisite, a pervasive consensus that early adolescence is a special and critical period within the life span that merits public support must enter the realm of "public ideas" ( Reich, 1988). This widespread public acceptance has been accomplished for