Monday, October 6, 2008

Referendum L – Colorado

This measure would lower the age from 25 to 21 for serving in the Colorado state legislature.

Some would argue that at 21 they are adults, can already vote and can serve in the armed forces. Others argue that at 21 they don’t have the maturity and real-world experience that a legislator should have.

I am against this amendment.

What came to mind when I heard of this amendment is a study of the brain I read about recently. While mostly contrasting a teen ager and a mid-twenties individual, it gives us something to think about with 21 to 25 also.

Here are some comments from the author of the study:

Dr. Jay Giedd, chief of brain imaging in the child psychiatry branch at the National Institute of Mental Health, has spent more than 13 years performing MRIs and studying the brains of more than 1,800 kids. Through high-powered MRI technology, he has discovered that the adolescent brain, while fully grown in size, is still a long way from maturity.

Long after the size of the brain is established, it continues to undergo major stages of development. One of the last regions of the brain to mature is the pre-frontal cortex—home of the so-called "executive" functions—planning, setting priorities, organizing thoughts, suppressing impulses and weighing the consequences of one's actions. This means the part of the brain young people need the most to develop good judgment and decision-making develops last!

This "under construction" nature of the adolescent brain helps explain why teenagers act they way they do, and why their behavior can be idealistic, energetic or enthusiastic at one moment, and cynical, lethargic and bored the next. At age 16, their bodies may look fully developed, but the minds are very much still in the development phase.

According to new studies, the pre-frontal cortex usually does not reach a level of genuine maturity until someone reaches their mid-twenties! "It's sort of unfair to expect [teens] to have adult levels of organizational skills or decision-making before their brains are finished being built," says Giedd.
Click here to read more about the study.

I don’t think we should entrust our future to individuals who may not fully understand the implications of future. I know there are some great 21 year olds out there. If they want to be involved in the legislature, there are plenty of safe places where they can plug in.

As Mike Rosen said: "Worldly wisdom doesn't necessarily come with age but it definitely doesn't come with youth."

Philip

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