The teenage brain, Laurence Steinberg says, is like a car with a good accelerator but a weak brake. With powerful impulses under poor control, the likely result is a crash.
This is not to disparage teenagers--far from it. I enjoy working with them, and so many of them are good people. But they're not biologically/developmentally/mentally ready to make some of the decisions we expect adults to make.
"It doesn't mean adolescents can't make a rational decision or appreciate the difference between right and wrong," he said. "It does mean, particularly when confronted with stressful or emotional decisions, they are more likely to act impulsively, on instinct, without fully understanding or analyzing the consequences of their actions."
I can't imagine that's a surprise to anyone.
The inexplicable behavior and poor judgments teens are known for almost always happen when teens are feeling high emotion or intense peer pressure, conditions that overwhelm the still-maturing circuitry in the front part of brain, Giedd said.
Again, not a surprise.
There's much good information in the linked article. I recommend it to all high school teachers and parents!