How Government Created the Myth of Adolescence and the Terrible Consequences

Via The Daily Bell

Why are teens so angsty and rebellious? Because they are biologically adults, being treated like children.

Jane Addams likely had good intentions when in the early 20th century she helped create the juvenile justice system and laws against child labor. But fast forward to present day and her influence on how society treats young adults has disastrous effects on young individuals and society at large.

Tom Woods hosted Dr. Robert Epstein on his podcast to discuss this problem. Epstein wrote a book called Teen 2.0: Saving Our Children and Families from the Torment of AdolescenceIn it, he makes the case that the government, the pharmaceutical industry, and purveyors of “teen culture” have created a myth about post-pubescent young adults.

Many people believe the psychological and social problems associated with American youths is a natural part of the teenage years. Epstein explains that the root of the issue is treating people who are physiologically young adults as children.

It started with Jane Addams creating a culture that prolonged childhood. The government went on to require public education which grouped youths with peers their age. At a time when teenagers should be learning from more mature and intelligent adults, they are instead exposed to an echo chamber of immature peers.

Epstein cites studies which prove the competency of teenagers is often higher than the competency of adults. He argues that nothing magically changes at age 18 or 21. In their teen years, some people are capable and some people are not. But these will likely be the same people who are and are not able to be productive members of society in later years.

Industries now seize on  “teen culture.” Hollywood and the music and fashion industries sell their products by appealing to this unnatural subculture. The pharmaceutical industry exploits the psychological problems caused in teens to sell their drugs. There’s nothing wrong with teen brains. There is something very wrong with how society treats teens. But instead of tackling the issue, the drug industry has a pill for that.

And it makes perfect sense. Coercion, not just in teens, is a leading cause of mental anguish. Many adults feel helpless up against forces like the government, media, and corporations. Young adults feel equally trapped by authoritarian parents, public schools, and legal age restrictions.

Child labor laws sound like a good idea when you think of 8-year-olds in factories. But what about 15-year-olds in mechanics’ garages? Why can’t a 13-year-old work for a restaurant without government permission? And even when these young folks get permission, they have to schedule their work around compulsory education. The government forces them to waste their time, eliminating actual opportunities to learn from work experience while making money.

And the myth that teenagers are still children permeates American culture. How often do you hear people refer to young people from age 13 and well into their 20’s as “kids”?

The solution always comes back to individual freedom. Of course, if we immediately started treating all 13-year-olds as adults there would be issues.

But luckily this is one of those problems where the solution really does come down to individual action. Parents have ultimate control over the environment they provide for their children. As their children become young adults, parents can give those teens a degree of autonomy on a case by case basis.

Homeschooling is growing, which is a good sign. Many people don’t isolate their kids (and teens) from social interaction. Instead, they join co-ops and social groups that don’t segregate by age. Kids have an opportunity to learn from teens, who have an opportunity to learn from adults.

There are far-reaching implications of this myth of adolescence. This is just an introduction to the idea. Tell us in the comments what impact you think this myth has had on society or would have if reversed.

Listen to the podcast or read the book to get the full picture.


SweetDoug Sun, 12/03/2017 - 16:28 Permalink

'''Perhaps.A betterer more comprehensive explanation of Children can be found in The Disappearance of Childhood: Neil Postman ... - Amazon.ca came out of the idea of writing, which segmented society into those that could read and those that couldn't. Reading began to occupy the position of the untouchable by children, who had to learn to read, to learn about adult situations. This and most of, all off, Postman's work is accessbile, breezy, and deceptively entertaining, but incredibly insightful.OJOV-V

83_vf_1100_c Sun, 12/03/2017 - 16:56 Permalink

  The author probably has not raised a teenager. At 16 they are 90% physically an adult but their brain and experience level are not quite there yet. I am working thru teen #4 of 4 now. I have more real world experience of why teens are not adults than I bargained for.  It ain't all their fault, they want to be an adult with all the priveleges with little or no consequences. Good luck with that. I want a new Corvette without the mini mortgage payment. I wanted sex without the consequence of children, yeah right. I want to drink and drive and not have to pay a lawyer. Children deserve respect til they don't. They don't deserve complete freedom til they can pay for it. Teenagers are like the wife on her menstrual cycle. Ruled by hormones. Except every day for years. You could not pay me to be a teen again. My aging body with all the aches and pains is the better deal.

tion 83_vf_1100_c Sun, 12/03/2017 - 23:52 Permalink

Self determination and consequences are beautiful things.  The brain, rational thought, responsible behavior, don't automatically develop themselves just through age.  This is readily apparent if you go someplace like the Bay Area, where many people in their twenties, thirties, and even old crusty adults are addicted to being a victim, refusing self-responsibility, and are outraged by consequences.I like Tom Woods and find myself in agreement with much of what his guest says, but I hope there is no hidden bizarre agenda to normalize sex between fully grown/mature adults and young or very young adults.  In either case, it doesn't hurt if parents clean their shotguns early and often.Homeschool was really the only way forward for us.  My child was raised to always give a measure of respect to authority, but not at the cost of self-respect or doing the right thing. That type of self-sacrifice is not constructive in any way.  Hypocrisy and injustice are naturally extrordinarily repulsive to many people, my child and self amongst them, and I had to come to accept that objectively, it was cruel to allow my child to be punished as some sort of 'rebel' for simply taking a principle based stand, asking an injustice or double standard to be answered for, or respectfully correcting a teacher who has proferred an incorrect correction.  Mediocre people with shitty character that just love going out of their way to try to step on people 'smaller' than them are not entitled to respect and my kid always knew I would support any savage trolling under the appropriate circumstances, lol.  The daily peer-cattle-corral environment is also a complete shitshow these days and can be highly toxic and damaging to young people.   When it comes to hypocrisy and double standards, we need to understand that there are times where double standards can be appropriate.  As parents, we cannot expect to say "Do as I say, not as I do, BECAUSE REASONS!!!@@#%#$" and expect that to go over well.  Our kids are (hopefully) not retards.  On the contrary most of them are highly perceptive.  Whether it is double standards we are tring to hold to our children or even to a significant other or another adult, we need to strive to have the self-awareness to realize the hypocrisy in the double-standard we are attempting to set and be capable and willing to start a calm reason based logical conversation about it, or open to discussion if it is brought to our attention.  It's a good time to talk about roles, responsibilities, authority / where the buck stops, maybe even past mistakes that we made when we were younger and without guidance or even more current mistakes/long standing bad habits that currently work against us that we don't want our child to have to struggle with in the future, what the double standard attempts to accomplish (what want/need is it actually lead by? are we actually just being an asshole, is it legitimate, and could it be more easily accomplished by a more collaborative means).  Whether we like it or not, attempting to unilaterally force double standards on any other person is damaging to the relationship, can lead to misunderstandings, actually leads to a decay of legitimate respectable authority and trust, and comes with consequences (though said consequences may not readily or ever be fully known by us).   

In reply to by 83_vf_1100_c

techpriest tion Mon, 12/04/2017 - 00:37 Permalink

I like Tom Woods and find myself in agreement with much of what his guest says, but I hope there is no hidden bizarre agenda to normalize sex between fully grown/mature adults and young or very young adults. In either case, it doesn't hurt if parents clean their shotguns early and often.

Being a big fan of that show, and having listened to the podcast, it certainly isn't the case.

The main point of the podcast is a huge dig at the psych pharma industry. You are taking children who are trying to become adults, putting them into a box where they are isolated from reality (school), and then blaming the ensuing trouble on "chemical imbalances in the brain." In reality, if the average teen is, say, working or interning among adults, and most "education" is coming through mentors, they would get the needed time away from parents, and the needed opportunity to prove themselves.

I just went through this with my brother-in-law a couple months ago. He was writing his college applications, and his mom was freaking out about how he wasn't motivated. I had her step out, and we had a productive conversation about how crazy Mom was, but also how he could communicate to deal with her fears and get her off his back. Then we bring her in, and get her to agree that she'll chill out if he meets certain targets with the applications.

It worked - he got accepted to 2 schools so far. His mom asked me how I did it, but frankly he was already there, and just needed someone outside of his parents to talk to. This is one thing that's sorely lacking in schools - teachers don't talk *to* you, they talk *at* you.

In reply to by tion

Yippie21 Sun, 12/03/2017 - 17:09 Permalink

Just like all the "rules" against kids having jobs now.  What changed from the 1970's - 80's ?  Massive culture shift in what was acceptable for kids to do.  The focus on having kids involved in sports and really anything but work.  I blame the rise of women and the "mom" mindset that really started in the 70's but by the early 90's, it hit full stride.Treating teens as things to be pampered and sheltered.. well into their 20's.  To the mindset finally in 2009 with the Government declaing kids are kids until they are 26.  Stupid.

beyondtheprogramming Sun, 12/03/2017 - 17:28 Permalink

One hundred years ago, second graders were in possession of more real skills - more math, history, grammar, cooking, sewing, farming, animal husbandry, preserving food, carpentry, traditional home remedies - and were more mature than the colledge freshmen of today. That's the real crime by design. Pick up a McGuffey's Reader sometime and quiz yourself and your kids, then read everyone some Charlotte Iserbyt.

1stThingsFirst beyondtheprogramming Sun, 12/03/2017 - 21:41 Permalink

Spot On!  Couldn't agree more! And the reality is that 200-300 years ago, 14- to 16-year-olds helped carve a whole new society out of mostly unsetttled forbidding wilderness, with their bare hands! Say what you will about 'White European Invaders,' but the fact is the Country they built became the greatest civilization the world has ever known. My ancestor came to this Country in 1632, as a 16-year-old Endentured Servant; who subsequently helped found the Rhode Island Colony with Roger Williams. It would not be too much of a streach to suppose, the talents, intelligence, & survival skills that young man possessed at age 18 far surpass the abilities of the vast majority of Americans born in the last 60 years. Hell most 14- & 15-year olds today can't even wipe their own azz without some taxpayer funded assistance program!

In reply to by beyondtheprogramming

chiaroscuro lasvegaspersona Mon, 12/04/2017 - 02:37 Permalink

Keep in mind, though, that the brain does not develop in a vacuum but rather in response to its environment. Here’s a reference to a study done in the 1960s demonstrating that a kitten would go blind in one eye with 3 months of disuse. After 3 months of not being allowed to see out of one eye the kitten was left with permanent changes in the visual cortex of its brain. These changes would not allow it to see properly even after the obstruction of sight was removed. This study may have been prompted by the observation that children born with cataracts had persistent visual deficits even after their cataracts were removed.  So it’s not much of a stretch to speculate that the brain of a young adult who has been raised without the expectations or challenges of adulthood might remain somewhat handicapped in this regard. One would hope that this handicap, if present, would eventually be overcome in response to new challenges.  It’s hard to know how different the brains of teenagers 200 years ago were from those raised today. Comparative studies with other cultures where adolescence is handled differently might shed some light on this and I’m not sure if those studies have been done.  In any case, I’m glad to see a book critiquing the modern concept of adolescence since I agree it is generally detrimental to our youth, families and society to treat teens and young adults like children.  It occurred to me after reading this article that our system of education and the way we treat adolescents in this country is not unlike factory farming. Both feed consumerism in different ways. We push teens and young adults through a highly unnatural, production driven, one size fits all model that is so unhealthy many of them require the intervention of Big Pharma just to get through it. Imagine that. And it’s no surprise that as is the case with industrial agriculture the quality of the “final product” is quite poor. But we’ve become so habituated to these low standards that we don’t realize we can and should expect better.  On that note, it’s my personal suspicion that probably most (not all but most) mental illness is due to the highly unnatural environment we live in and the dysfunctional relationships we are surrounded with from the individual to societal level. But it’s easier to point out a problem with an individual (i.e. their brain isn’t functioning properly and they need medication) than it is to fix something as complex as the society and culture in which we live. 

In reply to by lasvegaspersona

francis scott … Sun, 12/03/2017 - 18:25 Permalink

By keeping these teenagers teenagers and not adults, they pose less adanger when the masses try to revolt and end Big Brother's control. Add to that the government's slow, steady but complete sanctioningof marijuana for Americans.  'The Siddartha Solution'.   The smoke that turnsanger into understanding and acceptance, aggression into peaceful thoughts,and a desire to live in woods 100 miles from the neaest neighbor and - hold onto your hat - happy to have sexual intercourse with the same old cock and titsday in and day out. You didn't think they were legalizing weed just for the taxes, did you?  

Lucretius hxc Sun, 12/03/2017 - 20:31 Permalink

hcx,me too, many years ago... though not that much, waited till after work/ evenings and weekends! Currently never "smoke", other than an occasional puff (single) for neasia, I just no longer care for it... NEVER thought that would happen. CBD is a whole other matter, NOT mind/mood altering!At 27 tender years, I had 2 beautiful daughters, 5 and 3 years old. At 57 and a half (s), I can guarantee you that you have NO CLUE as to what stress is! And also, I guarantee you that a joint ain't going to be the cure for stress in your future   . Good luck to you     son.L.

In reply to by hxc

francis scott … hxc Sun, 12/03/2017 - 22:37 Permalink

I think I painted this with too broad a brush.  In the first place I didn't start to smoke until the early sixties when Iwas in my early 20s.  Life was a lot different then. And I believe potsmoking was different then too.  I was in San Francisco in 1968 with the 'flower children'.  There is war today, but theUS isn't sending hundreds of thousands of troops to fight Vietnamese peasants.  Todaywe call the people we kill terrorists, and the media doesn't remind us of all the innocentbystanders, women and children, whom our bombs also kill.  They're called collateraldamage.But back in 68 an astute observer saw that the pot smokers of that era were against the war.They were peaceful and non-violent. I'm not sure they wanted to screw every other chick theysaw, but they enjoyed having sex.  Maybe 10 or 15% of them were just in SF just  for the sex.  After all,it still was America back then.  They wore bellbottom jeans and flowing Buddhist coloredattire.  They came on to chicks all peaceful and nice and always had pre-rolled spliffs on them togrease the skids. They went to protests and free concerts to get laid.  A few caused trouble. Most of the flower children enjoyed getting laid, also most of them were turned off of violenceat home or in Vietnam.  From the 70s until ???, TPTB in America were extremely against middle class use of pot.  It turned their sons and daughters into peaceniks which was totallyunacceptable.   I stopped paying attention as I had stopped smoking.  Then I read about medical marijuanaand thought it was a good idea.  I knew that a lot of people would claim they needed it whenthey just wanted a safe way to get high.   Today it's readily available to middle class Americans. I'm not sure if you're into pot to get laid or to reduce stress.  Probably both.   Maybe you started todrink beer first and pot is just part of an enjoyable cocktail for you. But I can't help but rememberSF in 1968 when I saw the cosmic or spiritual results it had on thousand, tens of thousands,of young Americans, (which I personally experienced), who if they were alive today would probablybe violently protesting Trump's position at home or in the world.   The PTB - or DS - know how many rioters and looters participated in the protests right afterthe election and whether that number would be significantly larger if marijuana were notas readily available as it is today.

In reply to by hxc

qr259100 Sun, 12/03/2017 - 18:52 Permalink

Great point. When my son turned 14 I told him he no longer had to go to school unless he wished to. I quess I was breaking the law. LMAO He wished to continue but a year latter he opted for a GED and has never looked back he is now 31 very successful with a beatiful family. Same with my daughter but she stayed and got a masters degree. But she got a master degree not me, not the government she did it. Not allowing teens to work is much more harmful then it ever was to force them. This is the classic mis use of our laws makeing laws that restrict the person who was abused rather than restricting the abuser. 

Citxmech qr259100 Sun, 12/03/2017 - 20:01 Permalink

Giving young adults the option to create their own destiny and own it, warts and all, does more to create a productive adult than any amount of class time. On a different note, I think moving away from the "one room schoolhouse" model was a mistake as well.  Having older kid learn how to teach the younger ones is a major skill ignored in today's educational system. 

In reply to by qr259100

Akzed Sun, 12/03/2017 - 19:39 Permalink

Remember Ken Burns' documentary series The West? In it was read a letter by a man describing how ably his four year-old boy drove the buckboard to town and back for supplies.

Akzed Sun, 12/03/2017 - 19:42 Permalink

Another way to look at it is that in centuries past, a sexually mature person was never treated as a "growing child." Today sexually mature folk spend perhaps six years—ages 12 to 18—living under the authority of their parents.Since the mid-1800s, puberty—the advent of sexual maturation and the starting point of adolescence—has inched back one year for every 25 years elapsed. It now occurs on average six years earlier than it did in 1850—age 11 or 12 for girls; age 12 or 13 for boys.…

Jasher Sun, 12/03/2017 - 19:49 Permalink

14 But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.14 But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.16 But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.22 For my people is foolish, they have not known me; they are sottish children, and they have none understanding: they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.

shimmy Sun, 12/03/2017 - 19:56 Permalink

What a load of horseshit. I can't imagine how much more fucked society would be if teens were given the same freedom and treatment as real adults. Adults in their 20s are bad enough...

TeethVillage88s shimmy Sun, 12/03/2017 - 21:00 Permalink

Boiling Frogs: Chapter 10, Byzantine Rules keep kids from working and make them dependents till middle age like in Italy & UK... Byzantine Trade Policies shipping Jobs offshore and created $800 Billion current account deficit in Trade... and Broad survey of Inflation reveals even produce is too expensive for restaurants.

Complexity Theory?

Byzantine Society brings us all down?

heard about the

population of like 322 Million, 146 Million are working, it seems employment in Govt is like 1/3 of working people when you add in contractors, education, universities, health care, telecommunications, social websites.

FRED Charts have one for Federal Employee Total
Education and health services 23,456
Health care and social assistance 19,609.7

You can quote B-1 Table from Federal Reserve (thousands of employees)

Government 22,511

Economist has NEGATIVE $780 Billion Trade Balance.
Trade balance Current-account balance (ratio top 1880),M1V,MZMV,#0 (M1 Top 2007)
(old figures, not updated below) (Top was 2007 Q4 at 10.7, now down to 6.3) (Top was 1997 Q3 at 2.2, now down to 1.5) (Top was 1981 Q1 at 3.5, now down to 1.4) (Top was January 1987 at 3.1, now down to .7)

In reply to by shimmy

Bemused Observer Sun, 12/03/2017 - 23:26 Permalink

The concept of adolescence is not a modern notion. In old times, children would be routinely 'farmed out' to either apprenticeship or household service for a period of time after childhood, and before true adulthood. Old enough to learn adult responsibility and go towork, but still too young to start a household of their own. Children rarely made the jump from childhood to adulthood without some sort of interim or transition period.Also, it's very common for higher intelligence animals to have what you might call an 'extended childhood', which is nothing more than a reflection of the reality that it just takes longer to learn all the shit you need to know to live in an advanced society. Many animals also have a definite 'interim' status between infant and adult, with (surprise!) much of the disruptive and anti-social behaviors coming from the males among that very group! Full adult males usually do some serious ass kicking with these bad boys...exactly the kind we humans no longer do these days because we are "civilized" now. Besides, these days the 'full adult male' is nowhere to be found in many households, and I'm sorry, but Mommy alone just cannot properly control that young testosterone

Bemused Observer Benjamin123 Mon, 12/04/2017 - 12:25 Permalink

I would argue that education is never complete. Maybe that's the big take-away the old days, when knowledge was more limited and new inventions rare, people actually DID reach a maximum knowledge point, where most things had already been learned. Today there are just too many new things, and no way to learn them all in a whole lifetime. To stop learning today is a form of death. The mindset that thinks it has already learned everything it needs will not survive into a modern tech-world.Perhaps we humans will have to extend 'childhood' even farther, with 30 becoming the new 18. Adolescence as we know it is a very disruptive time for everyone, both the kid AND the people who live around him. In the old days, this was the marker that told you the kid was ready to go join the adult world...but that's not true anymore. In fact, this turns out to be the time when they need MORE supervision and guidance. Turns out that adolescent 'spit and vinegar' doesn't blend well with advanced tech, and we can see it in the silly and disruptive ways tech is currently being used by the 'young turks' in Silicon Valley.I can envision a future when adolescents will be monitored as closely as toddlers, and true adulthood will not occur until AFTER adolescence is over. 'The young' will still be the source of innovations, but they will NOT be permitted to 'run the world' anymore. People will recognize how dangerous it is to just hand the keys to teenagers.

In reply to by Benjamin123

DaveA Bemused Observer Mon, 12/04/2017 - 00:18 Permalink

If you want your kids to learn how to live in an advanced society, leaving them to rot in day care (also known as "public school") for eight hours a day is a really bad idea. No child left behind means no child gets ahead.

In the Middle Ages, childhood ended at age seven, when you had a reasonable chance of surviving into adulthood. After that, you got a name, a set of clothes, and a job. That is, you started learning and doing the sort of work that would occupy the rest of your life, which is a lot more satisfying than goofing off with your same-age peers.

In reply to by Bemused Observer

techpriest DaveA Mon, 12/04/2017 - 00:47 Permalink

Also, the nature of education is changing. You cannot learn everything you will ever need to know by 18. I do web development now, and everything I learned about it at 18 has been obsolete for a decade already.

Technology is going to bring the cost of educational access to a very reasonable price, and education in the future will be true lifelong learning. Schools are not preparing students for a future of selecting their own educational path and pursuing it regularly.

In reply to by DaveA

zimboe Sun, 12/03/2017 - 23:42 Permalink

HUMAN BRAINS ARENT REALLY FULLY WIRED UNTIL 30 YEARS OF AGE.Sorry to shout, caps lock key stuck again. Fugitive Fritos fragment to blame....Lowering the voting age to 18 explains a lot of silliness.Raise it to 30 and things will become much less goofy.

Gerrilea zimboe Mon, 12/04/2017 - 07:04 Permalink

IMMATERIAL.Each of us have our own abilities, we are not cookie cutouts.   Stop treating fully grown adults as children because of _________ (fill in the blank).The Peter Pan enabling and conditioning has to end. Alas, those in power won't allow that, for obvious reasons.Teach critical rational thought and the "silliness" will end.====As for the idea of raising the voting age, then no one under 30 can fight in any wars, go into military service, drive or own anything Since their brains aren't fully wired, they couldn't understand the full consequences of their actions.You really haven't thought this out, have you???  

In reply to by zimboe

conraddobler Mon, 12/04/2017 - 00:21 Permalink

We simply have to look at the future and know that we are not going to let people steer us down the shoot of outsourcing us to a bunch of machines.Human beings are creatures of God, machines and corporations are not.  We all need to take a look at some fundamentals here and decide what we all stand for first before we can create good rules of commerce and engagement.There is nothing about corporations that for the most part ends well for humanity.As soon as they can lay everyone off and automate everything they will even if this ultimately kills their own market for shit.The final "layoff" will be a dirt nap for several billion now useless former employees.There is nothing in that vision for most people and so most people should not put up with that direction of things.Corporations are like that AI writing machine turning the entire world paper and pen to write more letters.   The ultimate goal is obvious and out of whack with humanity as a whole, the chasm can not be reconciled, it's efficiency unto death of humanity or humanity wins, pick one, pick a team.Teens are being confused on purpose because if they were not, if they were well taught and well raised, absent God hating cultural influences they are being steered down the false paths of worrying about CO2 when they should be more worried about how the food they eat is raised and kept and killed.How can anyone think that a culture that condones fast food cares about the enivroment of nature is beyond belief.They have attacked the water, the food, the family, God, small buisness, the value of money, everything that is good is under siege.It's not hard to pick a team if you just look around. 

DaveA conraddobler Mon, 12/04/2017 - 00:52 Permalink

Machines do not compete with humans for food, clothing, housing, medical care, education, or entertainment, so the prices of these things will always reflect human ability to pay for them. Intelligent machines essentially have three choices:

* Attempt to exterminate humanity and risk the humans winning. Isaac Arthur points out that any intelligent A.I. must ask itself, did humans really give me control over all their weapons systems, or did they just simulate such control to test my loyalty?
* Give humans what they need pro bono, as humans supposedly have nothing to offer the machines in return.
* Ignore humans entirely, in which case humans go back to trading goods and services with each other.

In reply to by conraddobler