At what age do we reach adulthood?

Having just sent off a draft of my lesson plans to Youth Communication, I saw this debate in the Times: “When Do Kids Become Adults?” The discussion touches on a lot of the issues that I bring up in my workshops: recent findings in neuroscience on the time it takes for the brain to reach maturity; how the law sets up different—and often arbitrary—age limits for activities such as drinking, driving, and voting; and more to the point, the distinction between the age of majority and true maturity. No one can blame the law for drawing lines in shifting sands, but it’s always a good exercise to evaluate the laws we live under in light of scientific findings and practical concerns, without of course losing sight of the politics and history behind them.


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