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The Age of Adulthood
Many years ago, no one ever heard of adolescence. When it came to human development, you were either a child, or an adult. You became an adult at the onset of puberty. This was commonly marked in females as the moment when the first menstrual cycle began; and usually occurred around age fifteen and a half. More recently, that age dropped to the average age of twelve; and today, it is believed that puberty (not always marked by a menstrual cycle) begins as early as age seven or eight. So at what age does a human become an adult?
Although there a few states in which the legal age of an adult is 19 or 21, in most states in the United States, the legal age of adulthood is 18. But is a human truly an adult once they reach the age of 18 or 21? What is an adult? Merriam-
In its Childhood Injury Report, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) refers to children as being between the ages of 0-
Age of Majority Law & Legal Definition. Retrieved from: http://definitions.uslegal.com/a/age-
Dahl R.E. (2003). Beyond Raging Hormones: The Tinderbox in the Teenage Brain. Cerebrum: The Dana Forum on Brain Science
Immunization of Adolescents: Recommendations And Reports. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. MMWR 1996, 45:(RR13).
Purity Congress Meets. A Great Gathering in Moral Work in the City of Baltimore. Aims and Objects of the Movement Determined to Prevent State Regulation of Vice and to Resuce Fallen Men and Fallen Women. The New York Times. Retrieved July 3, 2012 from http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-
Robinson, DA (1992). Patterns of Mitigating Factors in Juvenile Death Penalty Cases, 3 Criminal Law Bulletin 28
Sturman, D, Moghaddam, B. (2012), Striatum processes reward differently in adolescents versus adults. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
By Donna R. Turner, MPH, CHES