Stress and strain among adolescents have been investigated and discussed largely within three separate disciplines: mental health, where the focus has been on the negative effects of stress on emotional health; criminology, where the emphasis has been on the effects of strain on delinquency; and biology, where the focus has been to understand the effects of stress on physiology. Recently, scholars have called for increased multilevel developmental analyses of the bio-psychosocial nature of risk and protection for behaviors of individuals. This paper draws on several different but converging theoretical perspectives in an attempt to provide an overview of research relevant to stress in adolescence and puts forth a new framework that aims to provide both a common language and consilience by which future research can analyze the effects of multiple biological, social and environmental factors experienced during specific developmental periods, and cumulatively over time, on harmful behavior during adolescence. We present a framework to examine the effects of stress on diverse behavioral outcomes among adolescents, including substance use, suicidal behavior, self-inflicted harm, and delinquency.

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