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Leditor: What Age is Old Enough?

Claire Van Duyne, '17, Editor-In-Chief

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Dear Readers of the Panther Press,

It’s that time of the year again-election season. For seniors, that means some students are armed with the ability to vote and contribute to deciding the next president of the United States. Others, like me, will observe from the sidelines. Under one tenth of Strath Haven students will be voting in this presidential election, and it begs to question what age is old enough? For juniors and sophomores nearing sixteen, why can you drive before you can vote? The drinking age is twenty-one and yet you are required to be twenty five to rent a car. With so many arbitrary ages, it leaves us teenagers wondering what true adulthood means and when we will finally get there.

This summer I took my driving test and – thankfully – passed. Since then I’ve stopped for a full two seconds at every stop sign and looked left, right, and left again at every turn I’ve made. Yet I am only seventeen years old, and I am aware every time I get behind the wheel that the lives of my passengers, myself, and anyone else on the road are at my mercy. But voting for the next president – having a say on issues that directly affect me like college tuition – that’s too much responsibility. Explain that to me.

The University of Rochester’s Medical School conducted research into the inner-workings of teenage brains and concluded that the main difference between adults and teenagers is that adults think with their prefrontal cortex while teenagers utilize the amygdala. In other words, adults are rational while teenagers are biologically inclined to let emotions affect their decision making. The ability to rationally make decisions fully develops at the age of twenty five. This begs to question why us irrational thinkers are voting at eighteen and driving at sixteen. I guess the car rental companies got it right after all.

So science tells us that adulthood starts at twenty five while United States law isn’t really sure but tentatively tells us eighteen is the golden age. Now I’m sure, readers, that you are all dying to know what I think. Unfortunately, I am just as confused as the rest of the world.

Choices define who we are, so making your own decisions and facing the consequences equates to paving your own way to adulthood. Now I am neither eighteen or twenty-five yet, but I know that taking a few stumbles is conductive to learning how to walk. Listening, learning and forming life-long values and opinions are the true purposes of this election season for Strath Haven students. Sure I am a little jealous of those who will be voting, but my participation is not nonexistent. Take this time, fellow students, to pay attention. Learn when you are being lied to and look closely at what you believe in. Educate yourself outside of the classroom so that this “emotional” decision making doesn’t make it to the voting booth this election or the ones two, four, and eight years from now.

So back to the question: what age is old enough? The fact of the matter is that these arbitrary ages are here to stay, so instead of dwelling on the absurdity of these ever changing numbers, it’s important that we use this time to test ourselves. Challenge yourself to be aware and live in the moment. Make decisions based on what you believe in and educate yourself so you can find things worth fighting for. Do this and we will all be well on our way to finding a path into adulthood.


Sincerely yours,

Claire Van Duyne

The student newspaper of Strath Haven High School. The Panther Press is first and foremost a reflection of the opinions and interests of the student body. For this reason, we do not publish any anonymous or teacher-written submissions, and we do not discriminate against any ideology or political opinion. While we are bound by school policy (and funding), we will not render any article neutral, although individual points may be edited for obscene or inflammatory content. Finally, the articles published in the Panther Press do not necessarily reflect the views of the editors or advisors.
Leditor: What Age is Old Enough?