When Does A Person Actually Become An Adult?
I have often wondered when a person really develops enough to become grown up – an adult, who is able to make reasonable, analytical decisions and be accountable for those decisions.
In the United States, sixteen year olds are seen as mature enough to be licensed to drive a motor vehicle, and make decisions that could potentially harm or kill themselves or others on the road.
In Utah, with parental and judicial consent, a person is responsible enough to get married at 15, many other states peg the marriage age at 16 with parental consent.
In 17 states, seventeen year olds are thought to be mature enough to vote and shape the outcome of primary elections and caucuses if they will be 18 by election day.
Eighteen year olds are believed to be mature enough to enlist in the military and potentially kill or die in the line of their service.
At 18, one is held criminally responsible for their acts, and held to adult standards… unless you live in Vermont. In Vermont you can be charged as a juvenile at 18. Wait, Georgia, Texas and Wisconsin now draw the juvenile to adult line at age 16. However, all states have transfer laws that allow or require young offenders to be prosecuted as adults for more serious offenses, regardless of their age.
All cases against juveniles begin in juvenile court and must literally be transferred by the juvenile court to the adult court. This decision is left up to the judge or prosecutor and can depend not only on the crime, but the politics and media coverage surrounding the crime.
So really, criminally, one may always be considered a potential adult.
However, somehow, to purchase and drink alcohol one is not considered mature enough until the age of 21. Very few states allow drinking under 21 and those that do usually require them to drink at home, with parental supervision. In other countries where alcohol is legal, the purchase age is predominantly 18 for purchasing and some do not have a minimum consumption age at all.
Last year, the President signed a bill raising the minimum age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21. I’m sure this was to cut down on the nationwide problem of tobacco related car accidents and domestic violence. Yes, that last sentence is my sarcasm. Raising the tobacco age makes no sense. Shouldn’t a legal adult be able to decide to use tobacco or not?
Need to rent a car, but you are under 25? Good luck! And if you find a company that will allow you to, you will be restricted to the cars that you can rent.
Want to run for President of the United States and try and change these injustices? Well, you can’t become president until you are age 35.
So generally, when has someone’s brain fully matured? Ruling out retarded people, the scientific community usually agrees around the age of 25. This has lead to many criminal reforms on how to treat youthful offenders in their late teens and early 20’s, but it also confuses social issues on what should and shouldn’t be allowed.
You can die serving your country at 18, but can’t smoke tobacco or drink alcohol until 21. You can commit a crime in your youth, but how you will be treated depends on a labyrinth of state laws, politics and a roll of the dice. Should we change the military age to 25? Anyone with a grown brain will not charge a machine gun nest.
Speaking for myself, I was so happy to become 18. I could vote, legally buy tobacco and was considered an adult. I was an adult, so alcohol prohibition stopped me from drinking as much as it did to everyone else in the 1920’s. I was an adult, I knew everything, maybe I could teach my parents a thing or two?
At 26, I looked back on my life since I had turned 18. After getting scammed out of money in a pyramid scheme, getting shot at in a bad drug deal, getting a DUI, winding up at a minimum wage graveyard shift job and losing my girlfriend because of my misjudgments, I realized that I didn’t know shit. My judgement improved afterwards, after being thankful to still be alive and still be free. I consider myself very lucky.