Wisdom Regarding Teen Capacity
This chapter reviews the cutting-edge science of adolescent development and explains how teenagers, as a group, are different from mature adults. It explores adolescent neurobiological, psychosocial, and sexual maturation to determine whether teenagers have the legal capacity to opt for and handle sex with a work supervisor, a teacher, or another adult authority figure. It discusses how a teenager’s environment and experiences may influence the development of her brain. Distinguishing between cognition and other factors that influence decision-making, this chapter demonstrates that adolescents are not simply mini-adults. Chapter 3 provides the background for an evaluation of whether laws designed for adult targets can adequately protect juveniles and their “developing capacities.” Thus, Chapter 3’s review of adolescent development informs a discussion of the law that affects and purportedly protects teenagers. It answers the question of whether teenagers are developmentally different from adults; they are.
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