Group suggests pushing age of adolescence to 24

January 22, 2018 by Bob Yirka, Medical Xpress report
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

A small group of researchers with the Royal Children's Hospital in Australia is suggesting that it might be time to change the span of years that define adolescence—from the current 10 to 19 to a proposed 10 to 24 years of age. In their paper published in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health, the group offers arguments for their suggestion and the benefits they believe would come about by doing so.

Adolescence has traditionally been defined as the period between childhood and adulthood—from puberty until the attainment of an adult role in society. Though it is not normally legally tied to rights or entitlements, it has served as a guide for those who make policy. In the U.S. and Britain, for example, the age of 18 is considered the age of consent at which people are allowed to make choices about their bodies and their role in society, and are also allowed to vote and serve in the military. In their paper, the researchers suggest that due to both physical and societal changes, it might be time to consider pushing the end of adolescence forward a few years.

Adolescence has already been pushed lower, they note. Young boys and girls develop earlier than their parents and grandparents—many girls begin menstruating, the team notes, at around 10 years of age. The norm used to be age 14. New research, they also note, shows that the does not stop developing until a person is well into their 20s—and many do not develop until age 25.

And, the team notes, society has changed, too. In the U.K., the average age of marriage has been climbing, from the early 20s to the early 30s. And are leaving home later, too. In the U.K, young people on average do not leave home until they are 25 years old. Expectations by parents and others in society have also changed—many parents now expect their children to live at home longer, which has led to the realization that some policies have to change. In the U.S. for example, parents have been pushing to force to allow adults to keep their children on their policies longer.

Extending the age of adolescence, the group claims, would help in framing laws meant to protect young people and also to help them on their path to adulthood.

Explore further: Puberty is starting earlier for many children—sex education must catch up with this new reality

More information: The age of adolescence, The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health, DOI: 10.1016/S2352-4642(18)30022-1 , http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanchi/article/PIIS2352-4642(18)30022-1/fulltext

Summary
Adolescence is the phase of life stretching between childhood and adulthood, and its definition has long posed a conundrum. Adolescence encompasses elements of biological growth and major social role transitions, both of which have changed in the past century. Earlier puberty has accelerated the onset of adolescence in nearly all populations, while understanding of continued growth has lifted its endpoint age well into the 20s. In parallel, delayed timing of role transitions, including completion of education, marriage, and parenthood, continue to shift popular perceptions of when adulthood begins. Arguably, the transition period from childhood to adulthood now occupies a greater portion of the life course than ever before at a time when unprecedented social forces, including marketing and digital media, are affecting health and wellbeing across these years. An expanded and more inclusive definition of adolescence is essential for developmentally appropriate framing of laws, social policies, and service systems. Rather than age 10–19 years, a definition of 10–24 years corresponds more closely to adolescent growth and popular understandings of this life phase and would facilitate extended investments across a broader range of settings.

Related Stories

Puberty is starting earlier for many children—sex education must catch up with this new reality

January 18, 2018
The British government is consulting on a new curriculum for sex and relationship education in English schools. This change provides a timely opportunity to update how, when and what children are taught about puberty.

Early puberty in girls may take mental health toll

December 26, 2017
(HealthDay)—A girl who gets her first menstrual period early in life—possibly as young as 7—has a greater risk for developing depression and antisocial behaviors that last at least into her 20s, a new study suggests.

One in four girls is depressed at age 14, new study reveals

September 20, 2017
New research shows a quarter of girls (24%) and one in 10 boys (9%) are depressed at age 14.

Neurological changes during the transition from adolescence to young adulthood found in autism spectrum disorder

June 11, 2015
A study published in the June 2015 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry demonstrates that the atypical trajectory of cortical/brain development in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) ...

The correlation between lying and alcohol consumption in teens

May 26, 2017
Adolescents who have a greater tendency to lie to their parents are also more likely to start using alcohol at an earlier age, while excessive parental supervision may aggravate rather than solve the problem. Both honesty ...

Adolescent exposure to drugs, alcohol fuels use in adulthood

July 29, 2016
Teenagers who have easy access to drugs and alcohol in the home are more likely to drink and do drugs in their early and late 20s. That's according to the one of the first studies to look at how adolescent exposure to illegal ...

Recommended for you

Sweet, bitter, fat: New study reveals impact of genetics on how kids snack

February 22, 2018
Whether your child asks for crackers, cookies or veggies to snack on could be linked to genetics, according to new findings from the Guelph Family Health Study at the University of Guelph.

The good and bad health news about your exercise posts on social media

February 22, 2018
We all have that Facebook friend—or 10—who regularly posts photos of his or her fitness pursuits: on the elliptical at the gym, hiking through the wilderness, crossing a 10K finish line.

Smartphones are bad for some teens, not all

February 21, 2018
Is the next generation better or worse off because of smartphones? The answer is complex and research shows it largely depends on their lives offline.

Tackling health problems in the young is crucial for their children's future

February 21, 2018
A child's growth and development is affected by the health and lifestyles of their parents before pregnancy - even going back to adolescence - according to a new study by researchers at the Murdoch Children's Research Institute, ...

Lead and other toxic metals found in e-cigarette 'vapors': study

February 21, 2018
Significant amounts of toxic metals, including lead, leak from some e-cigarette heating coils and are present in the aerosols inhaled by users, according to a study from scientists at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public ...

Why teens need up to 10 hours' sleep

February 21, 2018
Technology, other distractions and staying up late make is difficult, but researchers say teenagers need to make time for 8-10 hours of sleep a night to optimise their performance and maintain good health and wellbeing.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

mxw
not rated yet Jan 23, 2018
What rubbish. Make "adult" voting age at 16. We'd see a swing-around in society wouldn't we.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.