As a mother, I feel fairly confident about preparing my teenage son for adulthood. I consistently warn him of the pitfalls that teens face which land them in adult situations too soon. I say, “You are 18 now, you can not date girls that are younger than you.” Another popular one, “No, you can’t drive without a permit or license!” Of course, I go on to explain why and what the consequences are if he chooses not to listen. Most importantly, I provide “real world” examples. Most times, he listens.
After reading and pondering the debate about teens lacking adult reasoning capacity, yet being held to adult consequences, I realize my responsibility to educate my students as I do my son. There are many ways I can do this; such as incorporating real world scenarios in my lesson planning which leads to having candid discussions when there is an opportunity.
Recently, a group of girls were planning to “jump” one of their classmates after school because of gossip and misinformation. I decided to get them together and facilitate a ‘sitdown’ meeting. I believe it was successful because of the level of awareness I brought to the table. We discussed their intended actions as well as the potential consequences. Given time to process it, they decided to work it out. Today, they are all friends and doing well. They continue to meet with me because they appreciate the opportunity to have an outlet.
It is researched and scientifically proven that the teen brain is not mature enough to help control impulses or respond rationally; which means they often make snap decisions or judgements and act on them to their own detriment. Parents, teachers, and other community members exposed to these teens are obligated to pay attention, be available if needed and continuously educate them about potential pitfalls.
Photo Credit: Marcos Gomes