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Over the past several decades, the field of adolescent health and devel- ment has undergone a profound and pervasive transformation in the kno- edge and understanding of young lives. Popular myths about adolescent- that they are hapless victims of 'raging hormones'or risk-takers who see themselves as invulnerable - have been laid to rest. But even more imp- tant has been the emergence of a new,scientific perspective about this stage of life. It is a perspective that recognizes that adolescents are active parti- pants in the shaping of their own development; that the influence of c- text - family,peers,school,media,neighborhood,workplace - is as important in determining the life course as are the attributes of the individual and, indeed,that it is the interaction between context and individual attributes that is really crucial; that there is remarkable diversity in the pathways that can be taken by youth as they traverse between late childhood and young adu- hood; and that the adolescent life-stage is, itself, an extended one - a full decade of the life trajectory with very different tasks, opportunities, and challenges in the later years than in the earlier years. It is this new,scient- ic perspective that so thoroughly informs the present volume by Silvia Bo- no,Elena Cattelino,and Silvia Ciairano. The volume is an impressive contribution to understanding risk behavior among contemporary Italian adolescents,but it goes far beyond that to advance understanding of adolescent behavior and development as a whole.
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