Adolescent girls in distress are at high risk due to their location at the intersection of three populations at risk: adolescents, females, and those in social distress. The first part of this article specifies the parameters of the population in terms of behavioral and personality features, based on empirical research in Israel as well as the United States. The second part discusses the main characteristics of each of the three populations, with special emphasis on the components of transition in each. The third part develops an integrative theoretical model that illustrates the uniqueness of this group and its problems, and that may serve as a basis for the development of diagnostic and treatment tools for helping these girls. In this model, the profiles of adolescents in general, adolescent boys, adolescent girls, and adolescent girls in distress are compared. The comparison is made in terms of physical, cognitive, social, and emotional development, interpersonal relationships, and status in the family. Comparison of the profiles reveals that adolescent girls in distress are located at the extreme end of the spectrum of the six developmental areas. Implications of the findings are discussed in terms of the inconsistency between messages on various levels: explicit versus implicit; intrafamilial versus social; and expectation versus opportunity. It is concluded that the specific needs of this group require the establishment of an appropriate policy as well as a variety of strategies, including nonconventional techniques, for creating a multidimensional intervention program.
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|Published - Jun 1989