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and 15; the onset is more gradual among women (Bancroft et al., 2003). Bodily changes during puberty include physical growth, growth in genitals and girls‘ breasts, and development of facial and pubic hair. These changes signal to the youth and to others that she or he is becoming sexually mature.
Several psychosocial developmental tasks face adolescents. One is developing a stable identity. Gender identity is a very important aspect of identity; in later adolescence, the young person may emerge with a stable, self-confident sense of manhood or womanhood, or alternatively may be in conflict about gender roles. A sexual identity also emerges - a sense that one is bisexual, heterosexual, homosexual or transgendered, and a sense of one‘s attractiveness to others. An important influence is the cultural norms regarding gender roles and sexual identities.
Another task in adolescence is learning how to manage physical and emotional intimacy in relationships with others (Collins & Sroufe, 1999). In the United States, youth ages 10 to 15 most frequently name the mass media, including movies, TV, magazines and music, as their source of information about sex and intimacy. Smaller percentages name parents, peers, sexuality education programs, and professionals as sources (Kaiser Family Foundation, 1997). Youth learn different relationship and sexual scripts depending on which source(s) is most influential.
While biological changes, especially increases in testosterone levels, create the possibility of adult sexual interactions, social factors interact with them, either facilitating or inhibiting sexual expression (Udry, 1988). Permissive attitudes regarding sexual behavior will be associated with increased masturbation and the onset of partnered sexual activity, whereas restrictive attitudes and participation in religious institutions will be associated with lower levels