technology computer head health
Panda's Note Pad

Old enough to die, but too young to think?

In the US, individuals are allowed to join the military at age 18 (age 17 with parental consent). I don’t know what the actual odds are of dying while enlisted, but between 2006-2021 nearly 19,000 active duty personnel died. Interestingly, military personnel are more likely to die during training than while in action. Given the risk involved in this profession, I thinks its worth pointing out that younger enlistees have brains that are not fully developed. That’s right! The human brain is not fully developed until about the age of 25. Quite literally, younger enlistees are not capable of good decision making; that part of the brain is still developing. Yet, we send off our young loved ones into a career they may not fully understand (the consequences).

At this age we are often still acting based on our emotions; we are more inclined to making impulsive decisions. Perhaps this is why 45% of marriages in which the individuals are age 20-25 end in divorce? I myself was married AND divorced before the age of 25. But I digress… The US has some interesting laws when it comes to age requirements for various activities. I am not so sure they are based in science or reason.

In most states teens must be 16 to obtain even a driving permit. Though, there are some states where teens as young as 14 can obtain a driving permit. We allow teens to drive, even though the CDC has reported that motor vehicle accidents are the 2nd leading cause of death among teens in the US (1/2 of which are caused by teen drivers). Many more teens are treated in the emergency room for injuries sustained in car accidents.

The age of consent in the United States ranges between 16-18. I think we all know one of the life altering potential consequences of sex…babies. Although teen pregnancy is on the decline in the US, we still have one of the highest rates in the developed world. Again- We know that 16 year olds act impulsively, yet we as a country have decided that older teens can consent to sex.

In 2019, the federal government raised the age of Tobacco use from 18 to 21. But what is the science behind this? The brain is still developing…so why 21? The minimum drinking age in the US is also 21. Again- science? My guess is its about money. Follow the money. But that’s for another time.

(Sources: USAGov, rhinocarhire.com, CNN Politics, URMC.rochester.edu, lawyers.com, CDC, safekids.org, aspe.hhs.gov, guttmacher.com, FDA.gov)

Leave a Reply