A recent report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine calls attention to the enormous potential of adolescence while arguing that the nation needs to improve the services and systems that support young people during this vital period of growth and development.

“The Promise of Adolescence: Realizing Opportunity for All Youth” was the work of a committee that included associate professor Joanna Lee Williams of the Curry School and was chaired by UVA law and leadership professor Richard Bonnie (Law ’69). Defining adolescence as roughly puberty through early adulthood, the report draws on a body of research in calling this time “a developmental period rich with opportunity for youth to learn and grow” during which “changes in brain structure and connectivity … present young people with unique opportunities for positive, life-shaping development, and for recovery from past adversity.” 

Arguing that the U.S. needs policies and practices that better ensure that young people can reach their potential, the report makes specific recommendations for improvements to the nation’s education, health care, welfare and justice systems to improve the well-being of adolescents and decrease the toll of socioeconomic inequities, racism, and other barriers to opportunities and success.