The Maturity Dilemma - Essay Sample

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  4
Wordcount:  1093 Words
Date:  2022-05-16


One of the most puzzling issues in the contemporary society is the matter pertaining to maturity of individuals. Defining the legal age of maturity among young individuals has often been a daunting task for many Countries. In order to establish the best age that young people can be allowed to do certain things considered to be a reserve for adults, various studies have been conducted on the matter. The subject of age further impacts on the justice systems, when it there is need to convict young people who have committed grievous crimes yet they are not considered to be adults according to the law. Besides, execution is a matter that no individual was possible of evading despite their age, however, currently things have changed and it is now illegal for young people to be executed since they end up committing crimes which they have little knowledge about. An adult is, nevertheless, determined in terms of maturity but not necessarily in regards to their age.

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Some people define an adult as someone who is above 18 years of age whereas others believe that an adult is someone who is fully dependent on themselves and does not rely on their parents for financial support. The reason for this is that 18 years is considered to be the age of the majority. This is, nonetheless, is the legal definition for an adult. Socially, an adult is a person who is mature enough to distinguish between what is morally right and wrong. The UN convention for the rights of children defines a child as anyone who has not attained 18 years, which would automatically imply that an adult is a person who is above the aforementioned age ("When do you become an Adult?"). In some countries, the legal age has been set at 16 implying that adulthood is not necessarily determined by age but rather by other factors in play.

According to neuroscientists, there are significant changes occurring in the minds of young people. This implies that maturity is a continuous process which cannot be subjected to age or other related factors. On the other hand, it is necessary for legal age limits to be instituted firmly. The reason offered for this is because some individuals are known to mature faster than others. In addition, it is further argued that particular sections of the brain do not receive full maturity until early 20`s or mid 20`s ("When do you become an Adult?"). In such a case, it would be wrong to state that an 18-year-old is an adult. Additionally, throughout the entire adolescent process, at no point does the brain of an individual become fully mature. This would explain why the United States sought to abolish execution of minors aged below 18 years of age since most of them are not fully aware of the crimes they are committing. At this point, it would be logical to indicate that immaturity is a more crucial factor compared to age. This is because previous generations of individuals are more mature compared to those in the current society (Gardner & Laurence p.625). Parents have contributed to this by overprotecting their children and also because the current generation is more exposed to elements such as television and social media. It is no wonder to see a bright child committing a crime that can only be categorized as being foolish.

There are specific ages which according to the law define when an individual is allowed to drink, drive or could also be held liable for the crimes they commit. In most nations across the world, 18 years is considered to be the legal age that permits individuals to indulge in certain acts at their own pleasure. In the United States, however, individuals begin to drive earlier than they are allowed to drink, contrary to other countries ("How Old Is Old Enough"). Such factors do not, however, determine whether or not a person is an adult. Adulthood comes with responsibility and until someone has demonstrated that they are responsible then it is highly likely that they have not yet matured. In the 19th century it was observed that a majority of teenagers were left to cater for their own children by seeking for employment, yet they still managed contrary to the contemporary society whereby, it becomes impossible for individuals of the same age to take up responsibility despite being more intelligent ("How Old Is Old Enough").

Lawrence Steinberg, who won a research prize after submitting critical study involving teenagers indicated that majority of the young individuals are seeking to take risks despite lacking the ability to control their impulses (Steinberg p.58). This means that teenagers end up committing offenses without prior considerations of the consequences. The logical reasoning is developed early in life before the young individuals get to gain control over their own actions. "Using different ages for different legal boundaries...would make neuroscientific sense" ("When do you become an Adult?"). The explanation offered for this is that humans have an incremental ability to develop different skills thus making it logical to imply that their rights ought to be obtained successively over different ages as opposed to a situation where they are offered to them all at once.


The above illustrations clearly show that an adult is not essentially defined by their age but also in reference to their level of maturity. It has also been established that some sections of the human mind develop over the years which explains why it would be inaccurate to state that an individual is an adult after attaining 18 years of age. Further still, it is also evident that various societies have varying definitions of the legal age of individuals. More importantly, the society has to consider the fact that teenagers develop reasoning before they can be able to acquire the ability to control their desires. Based on the above-mentioned ideas it can be perceived that there is no conclusive definition for age and neither is there has sufficient evidence that has been provided to show when exactly a minor graduates to become an adult in the current world.

Works Cited

Gardner, Margo, and Laurence Steinberg. "Peer influence on risk taking, risk preference, and risky decision making in adolescence and adulthood: an experimental study." Developmental psychology 41.4 (2005): 625.

Rampell Catherine. How Old Is Old Enough? Nov 14. 2009, Accessed 23 Apr. 2018.

Slotnik, Daniel E. When do you become an Adult? May 30. 2012, Accessed 23 Apr. 2018.

Steinberg, Laurence. "Risk taking in adolescence: New perspectives from brain and behavioral science." Current directions in psychological science 16.2 (2007): 55-59.

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