Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Teenage Brain

This is one reason why I think teenagers shouldn't be allowed to have an abortion without parental consent. It's the same reason that we don't allow most of them to drive, or to vote, or to drink.

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!


Ellen K said...

And too many "modern" parents counteract this lack of restraint by issuing birth control rather than using simple monitoring of their teens. I know of parents who blindly rent hotel rooms for prom or homecoming. What in the world do they think is going on in unchaperoned hotel rooms? Do they honestly think their kids are staying up playing video game? I think the reason why parents should be notified is simple medical necessity. We can't give a kid a Tylenol without parental consent. And they want to perform a medical procedure that could have some serious side effects without the parents being in the loop? I can't imagine any insurance group would accept the liability. Also Darren, have you noticed how quiet the whole abortion pill issue has become? I am not talking about the morning after pill, but the one that induces miscarriage. It seems that as with too many things, some young women didn't read the directions and take the follow up pill. And sadly, there have been deaths as a result. Why isn't the media discussing this little side issue?

allenm said...

The teenage years are, evolutionarily speaking, the throw-away years and us guys, at that age, are the throw-away gender.

Recklessness, an assumption of invincibility and arrogance are worthwhile traits at an age when you're considered expendable.

The trait hasn't changed but society has. What once served admirably to extend the clan territory and fend off aggressive neighbors is no longer useful those roles having been assumed by society and the law.

Anonymous said...

some teenagers can control themselves you know