Throughout American history, parents, journalists, educators, politicians, and young people have debated the meaning of the transitional period between childhood and adulthood. Views of adolescence have had powerful but varied gender implications, shifting between the extremes of applauding youthful male vitality and condemning youthful male rebellion. Debates about adolescence often showed the concerns of adults who hoped to train young men to use their energies to assume their proper place in public life, but also feared that those energies could lead to various crises.

During colonial times, both the ideas about the roles of young males and their actual experiences differed significantly by region. In New England, boys were sent away to learn a trade, a practice intended by parents to undercut their sons' rebellious tendencies, ...

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