Adolescence is now accepted by most Americans as a strange and difficult period marked by wild swings of mood, outbursts of temper, rudeness, rebelliousness, and personality changes — all involuntary.

They would be surprised to learn that this period was unknown, unrecognized, and unseen in every previous civilization, culture, and society throughout the immensely long history of humanity. It is, even today, unknown in large areas of the inhabited world.

I recall marveling at the calm that pervaded families in South America during my last extended stay there in the early 1950s. I did not hear a single rude response by a teenager to anyone. No doubt it was different in the slums, but this was the atmosphere among the middle and upper classes.

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