When do kids become adults?

By: Jessica Godinez
Period 5

NY Times investigates...

According to neuroscientists, our brains do not reach full maturity until the early or mid twenties. Across the world, the age requirements are different for legal boundaries creating confusion. What is required of a person to determine if they are an "adult?"

Questions have been developing about changing the ages for certain legal requirements to create stability. For example, making the age 18 the legal standard for all laws, including the consumption of alcohol. Several people have come up with theories to determine "adulthood."

Sociological Theories:

Structural Functional

1.The country expects that making the voting age and draft eligibility to match creates stability, just like the old saying, "Old enough to fight, old enough to vote." (manifest function)

2. The decision to raise the drinking age brought the expectations of a decline in fatalities of alcohol related accidents. (role expectation and manifest function) However, there was a decline in countries where the drinking age is at eighteen. (latent function)

3. The nation's leaders hope to educate young people about the dangers of drinking and driving and creating classes to exercise the privileges of adulthood. (role expectation and manifest function) However, these lessons will require a considerable amount of training and proven skill. (latent function)

Social Conflict

1. There is an inequality in the eligibility to be in the draft. Only males of a certain age are allowed to be enlisted for the selective service.

2. A man who is of an age of 17 in a relationship with a 16 year old will be given the same punishment as a man of 57 with a 16 year old for statuary rape.

3.Young adults of the age of 18 should be treated as the "adults" the law says they are.

4. More driving training required of young adults will better prepare them for the privilege of driving. (Sanctions)

5. Unjust law that an 18 year old can vote, drive, serve in military, purchase cigarettes, but cannot purchase or consume alcohol.

Symbolic Interaction

1. Each individual state has its own view on the age of consent.

2. Sexual maturity should be measured by more than just birthdays, but by a person's personality to determine "adulthood."

3.In other countries, such as Japan, celebrates a child becoming an adult. "Coming of Age Day." (symbol)

4. A person's first marriage and first born child is a marker for official adulthood. (symbol)

Personal Reaction:

Overall, there is not only one way to determine if a person has reached full maturity and has taken a step into adulthood. However, laws given to us by the state or the date of our birth can not be depended on to tell us when we are ready to become adults. Each person is different and develops at their own pace, depending on their culture and their background. Although we do have certain laws with age requirements, not all people are mature enough to be treated as an adult. Some eighteen year olds are more responsible than others, or possibly more responsible than someone who is twenty one. So, the law or our date of birth cannot determine for us when we have reached adulthood. Changing age limits for certain privileges will not change how our teenagers will develop and mature. But, the best thing we can do is support our youth and teach them right from wrong, and help them prepare for the real world of adulthood.

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