Sunday, April 15, 2007

What Constitutes Being An Adult?

An article today in the Asheville Citizen-Times deals with the state of North Caroline debating raising the age of adults back to 18 when it comes to the criminal justice system. Proponents of the switch argue that a felony conviction for those who are minors leads them to a life of menial labor because people won't hire them and it's damaging to society to do so.

We have a very strange relationship with adolescence and adulthood in this country. You can drive a vehicle that weighs a few tons when you are 16. You can smoke, register to vote, and do contracts at 18. Some states, you can be charged as an adult for a crime at 14. You can't drink until you are 21.

We are sending mixed messages to our youth. All ages that we set on are arbitrary by their very nature, but we shouldn't be arbitrary about that date. I think 18 is a good number for everything, including the ability to purchase alcohol. There are people who are going to come up from two tours of combat in Iraq. They get home and can't have a beer? Please.

Instead of irrationality, it's time we revisit this subject, pick an age, any age and live with it.