Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Independence & Education

I'm 15... for a moment
caught in between 10 and 20
and I'm just dreamin'
countin' the ways to where you are

I'm 22... for a moment
and she feels better than ever
and we're on fire
making our way back from mars

15 there's still time for you
time to buy and time to lose
15... there's never a wish
better than this
when you've only got a hundred years
to live

- Five For Fighting

After reading about teens, we discussed what makes you an "adult". Legally you are considered an adult at age 18, but then you go to college and it is not the "real" world, and then after college, most students are financially and emotionally still reliant on their families. For example, you might have an apartment in the city, but you have to share the rent and/or mom and dad help pay the rent, or pay for a car etc... So some sociologists have said the age of real independence/adulthood is going up to the late 20s. Here is a link to an article in Governing magazine about what the real age of responsibility is.
Practically from puberty, young people are bombarded with mixed signals about the scope of their rights and the depth of their responsibilities. And most of those mixed signals come from the laws of state and local governments. In most respects, people are considered adults at 18. That’s when they can vote and enter into legal contracts—including the purchase, if not rental, of a car. But a 20-year-old Marine, just back from patrolling the streets of Baghdad, would have to turn 21 before he could join a local police force in most cities in the United States. A 20-year-old college junior, far more educated than the average American, cannot buy alcohol or enter a casino. In 10 states, a single 20-year-old cannot legally have sex with a 17-year old. But in nearly every state, a 16-year-old can marry—if he has his parents’ permission. (A handful of states allow girls to marry before boys.)
The most glaring examples lie within the criminal justice system. A spike in juvenile violence two decades ago spurred state legislators to adopt the mantra “adult time for adult crimes.” Consequently, in most states, a 10-year-old charged with murder can be tried as an adult.
You can listen to a discussion of the article on the radio program Talk of the Nation here.

The sociologist Ruth Benedict surmised that American culture is discontinuous. Americans learn from a young age through their teens that they are expected to be irresponsible, submissive and asexual and then as adults they are expected to be the opposite.
Many see the ability to get married and have your own family with kids as the age of independence. What do you think? Can you see how our society makes it difficult for teens?

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