Are people adults at 14? 18? or 21?

“Joan of Arc... convinced the embattled crown prince Charles of Valois to allow her to lead a French army to the besieged city of Orléans, where it achieved a momentous victory... Joan was captured... tried for witchcraft and heresy and burned at the stake in 1431, at the age of 19.” (source)

“Joan of Arc… convinced the embattled crown prince Charles of Valois to allow her to lead a French army to the besieged city of Orléans, where it achieved a momentous victory… Joan was captured… tried for witchcraft and heresy and burned at the stake in 1431, at the age of 19.” (source)

Are people adults at 14? 18? or 21?

Two articles got my attention recently:

14 year-olds to be tried in adult court?

“Part of the legislation would require anyone 14 and older to be tried in adult court if charged for using a gun in the crime…”

Read more: Widow supports bill named for late husband

Must be 21 to smoke a cigarette?

“Washington state would become the first in the country to ban tobacco for everyone under age 21 under a plan announced Wednesday by Attorney General Bob Ferguson…”

Read more: State attorney general wants smoking age raised from 18 to 21

In our society today we can be considered a child at 20 and an adult at 14.

I think we, as a society, are confused.

If anything, we need to begin lowering legal ages, not raising them.

That someone cannot drink a beer or smoke a cigarette at 20 is ridiculous.

By the time I was 20 I had already completed my three years of active duty service in the US Army.

Does anyone seriously think I wasn’t an adult by that time? An adult able to drink a beer and smoke a cigarette — legally — if I chose to do so? (which I did).

When I was 20 I could drink and smoke legally, since the legal age for drinking and smoking was 18 in those days, which is what it should be again.

At the rate we’re going, as a society, with kids knowing as much as they do about adult things, we may find ourselves lowering the legal age even more. To be raising the legal age today is absolute foolishness.

We need to stop treating 20 year-olds like children and begin treating them as adults.

Neil Postman on the Disappearance of Childhood (Summary)

“In perhaps his most provocative book, The Disappearance of Childhood, Postman attempts to explain why the dividing line between childhood and adulthood is rapidly eroding in contemporary society, and why the social role of the child may well disappear in modern industrial society. His contribution to this topic, he points out, is not in documenting this erosion; many observers have remarked upon the disappearance in the past. Rather, his contribution is in explaining both the origin of childhood itself as well as the reasons for its decline. Specifically, Postman posits that both the rise of the social role of the child and its consequent decline is rooted in changes in communications technology (1982/1994, xii).

“The invention of the printing press and the spread of a print culture is the primary causal agent in the rise of childhood. Replacing print culture with an electronic medium in which imagery is the main conveyor of information is the primary agent in its decline (xii-xiii). In a world dominated by oral tradition, Postman states, there is not a sharp distinction between children and adults. In such a world, childhood ends at about the age of seven when the child has mastered speech. At the age of seven “the medieval child would have had access to almost all of the forms of behavior common to the culture” (15).

“Save for sex and war, medieval youth would fully partake in adult life, sharing in games, work, play, and stories. The culture did not have need or means of keeping information away from youth. There were few secrets between the generations; upon attaining the age of seven the youth fully entered the adult world. Because it was an oral culture, Postman asserts, there was no need to prolong the socialization process so that youth can master reading and esoteric knowledge beyond the immediate local culture; thus no need of educational institutions in which youth are segregated from adults and age graded so that they can master both reading and be gradually exposed to the harsher ways of the world; no well-developed concept of shame because all have ready access to oral information. With the invention of the printing press in about 1450 and the spread of literacy, the “communication environment” rapidly changed.

“Literacy gradually became a great divide among people; to become literate was to become a fully functioning adult, to engage in a new world of facts, impressions, and opinions beyond the local milieu (28). More than this, Postman says, “typography was by no means a neutral conveyor of information.” Rather, printing changed the very organization and structure of thought. “The unyielding linearity of the printed book—the sequential nature of its sentence-by-sentence presentation, its paragraphing, its alphabetized indices, its standardized spelling and grammar” promoted “a structure of consciousness that closely parallels the structure of typography”(30 & 32)…”

Read more: Neil Postman on the Disappearance of Childhood –

The Disappearance of Childhood

“From the vogue for nubile models to the explosion in the juvenile crime rate, this modern classic of social history and media traces the precipitous decline of childhood in America today and the corresponding threat to the notion of adulthood.

“Deftly marshaling a vast array of historical and demographic research, Neil Postman, author of Technopoly, suggests that childhood is a relatively recent invention, which came into being as the new medium of print imposed divisions between children and adults. But now these divisions are eroding under the barrage of television, which turns the adult secrets of sex and violence into popular entertainment and pitches both news and advertising at the intellectual level of ten-year-olds.

“Informative, alarming, and aphoristic, The Disappearance of Childhood is a triumph of history and prophecy.”

BOOK – The Disappearance of Childhood –

College Lecture Series – Neil Postman – “The Surrender of Culture to Technology:

About ajmacdonaldjr

writer, author, blogger
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