Emergence of Teenage Girls

  • Kelly Schrum
Part of the Girls’ History and Culture book series (GHC)


In the second half of the nineteenth century, the lives of young people changed significantly Those in their teenage years received increased attention within the family as the birth rate declined, urban life outpaced rural, industrialization changed the shape and nature of work, public education expanded, and middle-class strategies for success focused on education and nurturing of the young. By the late nineteenth century, reformers, educators, social scientists, and legislators began to conceive of those in their teens as separate from adults and children, young people who deserved limited freedoms yet required special protection. The legal system created separate courts for accused juveniles. State and federal governments began to legislate age requirements for marriage, school attendance, and work, and later for voting, driving, and consuming alcohol. There was little consistency in these legal definitions of maturity and immaturity, and some legislation further divided age boundaries by gender. Girls, for example, could marry at a younger age than boys, but boys could legally consent to sexual intercourse at a younger age than girls could.1


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© Kelly Schrum 2004

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  • Kelly Schrum

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