So when did we grow up?

Henry Roi – December 2019

All over the world, legislatures make laws that treat adults differently from those deemed still to be juvenile. We recognise that juveniles differ from adults in the extent of their understanding, their responsibility, their judgment, and hence their culpability for bad decisions. But countries differ in how they define an adult. And this has also changed drastically over history.

Henry Roi explores this issue and invites readers to join the debate.


‘Everyone’ knows a kid becomes an adult when they turn 18. How does everyone know this? Who told them? Where did they learn it from? And is this ‘fact’ based on religion or prejudice or real science?

It wasn’t so long ago ‘everyone’ knew a boy became a man at age 12. A girl became a woman when she had her first period. Society accepted these age limits and allowed these new ‘adults’ to get married, work dangerous jobs and make decisions that affected lives. What changed? Why don’t we allow 12 year olds to have kids and go to war now?

Do you believe a kid becomes an adult on their eighteenth birthday?

Brain science is conclusive: the region of the brain that processes consequences of actions isn’t fully developed until a person is around age 26. There’s not much difference in development from age 17 to 18, between the age of a juvenile and a legal adult. But there’s a significant difference in development between age 17 and age 26.

With the emerging brain science, age limits are more controversial than ever. Would raising age limits in laws – like the parole law we are petitioning – settle the controversy?

Join the debate on our Facebook page, and share your opinion of prison reform for kids with life sentences. Should they get a second chance? Is your reasoning personal or a view your believe is best for the future of your community?

December 2019