PJ Media

Should Adolescence be Abolished?

There is an interesting article in a href=”http://drrobertepstein.com/pdf/Trashing%20Teens%20-%20Psychology%20Today%20-%20Epstein%20Interview%20-%20Apr%202007%20Issue.pdf”Psychology Today /a this month with psychologist Robert Epstein, the author of a new book, a href=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/188495670X?ie=UTF8tag=wwwviolentkicomlinkCode=as2camp=1789creative=9325creativeASIN=188495670X”emThe Case Against Adolescence: Rediscovering the Adult in Every Teen/em./aimg src=”http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=wwwviolentkicoml=as2o=1a=188495670X” width=”1″ height=”1″ border=”0″ alt=”” style=”border:none !important; margin:0px !important;” / Epstein says that “teens are far more competent than we assume, and most of their problems stem from restrictions placed on them.” Epstein mentions the trend starting about 100 years ago to extend childhood well into the 20’s. “The age at which Americans reach adulthood is increasing–30 is the new 20–and most Americans now believe a person isn’t an adult until age 26.”br /br /Epstein looks at this extension of childhood as happening primarily through the school systems and restrictions on labor: “The two systems evolved together in the late 19th-century; the advocates of compulsory-education laws also pushed for child-labor laws, restricting the ways young people could work, in part to protect them from the abuse of the new factories. The juvenile justice system came into being at the same time. All of these systems isolate teens from adults, often in problematic ways.”br /br /I think that Epstein makes some good points, especially a href=”http://drrobertepstein.com/pdf/Trashing%20Teens%20-%20Psychology%20Today%20-%20Epstein%20Interview%20-%20Apr%202007%20Issue.pdf”when he says /athat “teens learn most of what they know from other teens who are highly influenced by certain aggressive industries. This makes no sense. Teens should be learning from the people they are about to become. When young people exit the education system and are dumped into the real world, which is not the world of Britney Spears, they have no idea what’s going on and have to spend considerable time figuring it out.” br /br /I agree with Epstein that this infantilization is making teens angry and depressed. When your body screams you are an adult and the adults around you keep insisting you are a child, it has to be frustrating. a href=”http://www.violentkids.com/articles/violence_article_3.html”I wrote an op-ed /aalong these lines entitled, “Don’t Treat Teens like Babies,” about nine years ago but I think some of the points I made then are still relevant to teens and responsibility today.br /br /What do you think–do we infantilize teens and young people to the point where they are having a hard time making it as adults in the real world?