Excerpts from Teens 2.0 by Robert Epstein


Excerpts from Teens 2.0 by Robert Epstein



the main need a teenager has is to become productive and independent.


their primary task is not to break free of adults but rather to become productive members of their families and their communities as soon as they are able


because of the contract restriction alone, parents are in an excellent position to control young people through coercion


In our culture, the civil rights that are usually withheld until the age of majority are: The right to enlist in the military without the consent of a parent The right to inherit property The right to vote The right to refuse or consent to medical treatment The right to sign contracts The right to buy and sell property (including stock) The right to marry without parental consent The right to file lawsuits The right to make or revoke a will


An experience has meaning when we believe it is connected to people or things we really care about: our immediate family, for example, or our careers or country


Placing enormous demands on young people—at least demands that they find meaningful—seems not only to keep them out of trouble but, in many cases, to bring out the very best in them.

When thrust into adult roles, they act and feel like adults. 


When you’re given responsibility, your behavior is now linked to consequences—mainly negative ones. If you’re handed responsibility for a yard, a child or a platoon of troops, this means that from now on you’re the one who will be punished if something goes wrong

For the vast majority of us, taking on responsibility is also the only way we have of improving our lifestyles, supporting our families and acquiring the material goods we want.

many or most teens are capable of handling enormous levels of responsibility—every bit as much as adults and perhaps even more in some cases

responsibility is essential for bringing meaning to people’s lives


Soon after puberty, many or most young people are fully equipped to function as adults. When we infantilize them, we interfere with normal development. Giving young people meaningful responsibilities might simply be a way of restoring normal functioning.


one can track the emergence of fullblown, pathological, Western-style adolescence in countries undergoing Westernization



Three relatively simple acts shout to society, in tones that cannot be ignored, “I am an adult, damn it! And you will treat me that way from now on!” These acts are getting married, having a baby, and committing a serious crime.


gang activity is not childlike; it is most definitely adult: Gangs emulate small governments and armies


Rates of crime rise in the teens until peaking at age eighteen, then drop steeply…. Rates of most types of substance abuse peak at about age twenty…. Rates of automobile accidents and fatalities are highest in the late teens…. Rates of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) peak in the early twenties…, and two thirds of all STDs are contracted by people who are under twenty-five years old


spending on behavior-altering drugs for minors has now edged out spending for all other drugs, including antibiotics and medications for asthma, allergies and skin conditions


more than half of high school juniors and seniors drink regularly


As of 2008, about 20 percent of American high school students smoked cigarettes,


[suicide rates for] fifteen to twenty-four have tripled in the past halfcentury, even as rates for adults and the elderly have declined. And for every youth suicide completion, there are nearly four hundred suicide attempts


in 2007, nearly 40 percent of America’s teens were treated for major depression.


the CDC suggests that the peak age of sadness among American adults (eighteen and over) is eighteen


between 15 and 22 percent of our young people have purposely injured themselves.


we found a fairly large, positive correlation (r = 0.43) between the infantilization scores and the psychopathology scores; the more we treat teens like children, the more signs of psychopathology they show.


We have also seen the following: A spiraling increase in both the laws that restrict teens and the variety and intensity of teen problems that have emerged over the last century (Chapter Two). Few signs of teen turmoil in cultures that maintain a continuum between childhood and adulthood, as well as evidence that teen problems emerge in these cultures when that continuum is broken (Chapter Three). Evidence that even troubled American teens sometimes straighten out overnight when given heavy doses of responsibility and respect (Chapter Four).


the turmoil we see during the teens years in modern America is caused by the artificial extension of childhood past puberty. … Tens of millions of teens in preindustrial nations around the world also reach puberty every year, but the mood problems we see in America are absent or nearly so in such countries



parents didn’t keep track of the exact ages of their children


For most of human history until the time of the Industrial Revolution, the vast majority of children worked alongside adults as soon as they were able, and they transitioned to partial or full adulthood by their early, mid, or late teens


from the mid-1800s onward I found a steady and substantial accumulation of restrictive laws … the biggest surprise was the sudden increase in rate that began in the 1960s


Mary Ellen Wilson was a nine-year-old girl who was beaten daily by her foster parents. In 1874, mission worker Etta Wheeler took it upon herself to rescue Mary Ellen, but the authorities were uncooperative. No laws existed that prohibited such abuse. As a last resort, Wheeler approached the NYSPCA for help. Bergh took the case, arguing to a New York Supreme Court justice that Mary Ellen deserved protection as a “human animal.” Remarkably, in an 1875 decision, Justice Abraham R. Lawrence ruled in his favor, and Mary Ellen was saved.


Nearly every piece of major reform in the years 1895-1930 came with Jane Addams’ name attached in one way or another,


The Hull-House Legacy Addams’ reach was extraordinary. She either founded, helped to found, or was a major player in the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Juvenile Protective Association, the Immigrant’s Protective League, the Campfire Girls, the National Child Labor Committee, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the National Consumer’s League, the National Peace Congress, the Women’s Peace Party and at least a dozen other major organizations.


in focusing on “depraved” behavior that was repugnant to the upper classes—behavior that was usually victimless and non-criminal—the reformers, says Platt, “brought attention to—and, in so doing, invented—new categories of youthful misbehavior.”


laws prohibiting young people from going to movies or dance halls, fighting, staying out past a certain hour, and behaving “incorrigibly.” 

virtually all of these newly defined crimes had no victims. They were, if anything, “crimes against oneself”– most of these indiscretions were typical of the working class and poor, which raises questions about the motives of the people who fought for such laws.


delinquency laws gave public officials absolute authority to sweep the streets of undesirable young people for virtually any reason


Nurturing tendencies by women (and some men) to protect the millions of young people toiling long hours in the new factories or getting into trouble on the streets
The elevated status of women, which gave them a powerful new voice in policy making
The widespread adoption of the new view that young people are tender, helpless and incompetent
Determined efforts by the new labor unions to protect the jobs and wages of older workers by pushing young people out of the work force
The desire of leading industrialists to sweep the streets free of troublesome youths and to prepare new generations of skilled laborers through mass education
The desire of leaders in the upper and middle classes to impose their moral standards on poor and working-class youths
The emergence of new businesses and industries that catered to the young and helped to create a youth culture

Before these forces emerged, the troubled teen was a rarity in human history


  1. Stanley Hall, the psychologist who put the modern concept of adolescence on the map a hundred years ago, believed in recapitulation theory, and his own characterization of adolescence is a spin-off from that theory


In reliving our evolutionary past, said Hall, we must inevitably pass through a stage of great chaos—some “ancient period of storm and stress when old moorings were broken and a higher level attained”—a time of “savagery,” with “its tribal, predatory, hunting, fishing, roving, idle, playing proclivities.


“Teen Culture”


of 186 preindustrial societies found that more than one hundred of them didn’t even have a word for adolescence and that antisocial behavior by young males was completely absent in more than half of them. Where teen problems are beginning to emerge in various countries around the world, they can be traced to the increasing isolation of teens from adults brought about by Western educational practices, labor restrictions and media.


About 60 percent of these cultures had no word for adolescence, and the cultures that had relevant terms were usually referring to an innocuous, relatively brief period between puberty and marriage, not to a period of turmoil. Most young people in these cultures spent most of their time with same-sex adults. Teens spent almost no time with same-sex peers. Antisocial behavior in young males was extremely mild (by United States standards) in most of the cultures surveyed and completely absent in more than half of them. There was very little aggression or violence in teens in these cultures and almost no sign of pathology.


The rapid and dramatic shift in Inuit culture is especially unsettling because it cannot be blamed on either urbanization or industrialization, because Victoria Island has experienced neither one. Television, forced schooling and social security were enough to decimate the traditional culture—and to create the new developmental stage we call adolescence.


the imported youth culture “is largely one manipulated by adults who provide what they believe adolescents will buy.” Hence “modern adolescents seldom act as autonomous groups in constructive, socially meaningful ways.”


Juvenile Legal System

because juvenile proceedings were “informal,” the offenders were denied due process rights guaranteed to all Americans under the Constitution. With the creation of the juvenile justice system, the Fifth Amendment guarantee that “no person” shall be “deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law” and the Sixth Amendment guarantees that “the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury” with “the Assistance of Counsel for his defence,” were taken away from young people.


as of the early 1960s, in many states less than 5 percent of juvenile offenders were represented by counsel, no juries were allowed, and most hearings were held in secret.


some of the early reformers had in mind: the quick and sure containment of the children of the poor and working class. Since the reformers’ own children generally lived privileged lives, they were safe from the system.


Juvenile facilities, [Adams] believed, should be supportive and comforting, not punishing,… But teens aren’t children, and administrators soon turned to draconian methods to try to keep their reluctant wards under control


placing troubled young men in a supportive, homelike environment and then giving them responsibility for running their own lives would put them on the right track. Even though many of the young people in his community had been convicted of crimes, some quite serious, and were referred by judges, Flanagan insisted that the community not be surrounded by fences or walls and that the doors not have locks

Micky was quite bewildered when he arrived at the Freeport community, and the first thing he did was steal a watch from another young resident and run for the railroad station. On his way out of town he was apprehended, not by the conventional police, but by yet another resident of the Republic, and he soon found himself tried and convicted by a true jury of his peers. Even the judge, district attorney and lawyers were teens



child labor laws were extended to cover more and more kinds of work, the age of school leaving set higher and higher. The greatest victory for this utopian project was making school the only avenue to certain occupations. The intention was ultimately to draw all work into the school net. By the 1950s it wasn’t unusual to find graduate students well into their thirties, running errands, waiting to start their lives


By 1879, only seven states had child labor laws in place, and all were being ignored or circumvented to some extent


The 1929 stock market crash and the ensuing Great Depression gave a boost to the movement, mainly because jobs were suddenly so scarce that leaders were desperate to exclude as many people as they could from the job market. With perhaps 27 percent of the population out of work, the 1933 National Industrial Recovery Act established a minimum of age sixteen for workers in most industries

Organized labor was, according to historians, both “the head as well as the body” of the movement to prohibit young people from working


[child labor restriction law] the Supreme Court struck down the law in 1935, again on constitutional grounds


The Walsh-Healey Public Contracts Act, passed in 1936, prevented firms handling federal money from employing females under eighteen or males under sixteen


Child labor legislation was often propelled by big business, because “upper-class industrialists… did not depend on cheap child labor for their manufacturing operations.” He cites historian Jeremy Felt’s history of child labor reform in New York, which shows that “the abolition of child labor could be viewed as a means of driving out marginal manufacturer and tenement operators.


on family-owned farms young people can still work without restriction, and more than 100,000 young Americans do so every year without suffering any ill effects.


young people are allowed to work very few hours and in very few jobs, no matter how benign or beneficial the work experience and no matter how competent and motivated the young person.


In 1999, in Salinas, California, a $45 million mall construction project was shut down by a judge after members of the Carpenters Union Local 605 went to court armed with a video tape showing the twelve-year-old son of the construction boss operating a forklift … the non-union construction firm had long been a target of the carpenter’s union



“A parent whose day centers on child care is not only likely to be bored, and boring to others, but also likely to be giving an unwholesome kind of care.”10 Instead, she says, we need to encourage the natural tendency of the child to focus on adults, “witnessing the kinds of experiences he will have later in life.”11 The “main business” of the child, she says, is …to absorb the actions, interactions, and surroundings of his caretaker, adult or child.


Father-teen interactions in the United States are certainly “not enough to transmit the knowledge, values, attitudes, and skills that adult males should pass on to their children.


To a large degree, we’re now permissive with our young because (a) they’re completely dependent on us, (b) we love them (or at least we used to before they became unruly teens), (c) we can’t get rid of them and (d) we can’t control them

If we just let our young grow up, however, they would soon be subject to the very real controls of adult life, which are far more powerful and persuasive than the artificial and ineffectual controls we’re able to bring to bear as parents.


Our from-the-hip reaction is to get tougher and meaner, but that just makes most young people more secretive and angry. Sometimes even when we think we’ve got a problem behavior under control, we find out later that we only drove it further underground


if we stop infantilizing our teens, they’ll start respecting us again. Under the authoritarian system of parenting, respect is based largely on fear.



in 1852, when Massachusetts made school attendance compulsory for all children—requiring young people between eight and fourteen to attend school at least three months a year—unless, that is, the individual could demonstrate that he or she had already learned the relevant material. In other words, this law was competency based: you were exempt if you could demonstrate competence.


early laws was minimal, perhaps increasing actual school attendance by only 5 percent


with America’s immigrant population swelling daily (there were almost nine million immigrants during the first decade of the twentieth century alone), some felt that compulsory education was the best way to Americanize the rapidly changing population


Compulsory education, says Platt, was viewed by leading industrialists as a means of controlling the poor and working classes and, specifically, of preparing them for work in new Industrial America.


By 1933, with all young people forced to attend school and many forced out of the job market, the idea that all young people were incompetent was firmly embedded in American consciousness


[Young people are forced into schools regardless of the harm it causes] That fact that Western-style schooling segregates young people from adults is irrelevant. The fact that Western practices create a new and dysfunctional stage of life—adolescence—is irrelevant. The fact that prolonged schooling teaches a great deal that the vast majority of people don’t want or need to know is irrelevant.


peers are the last people on earth from whom they should be learning. Ideally, teens should be interacting with people over a wide age range, and their most significant interactions should be with the people they are about to become



honored on World Marriage Day in 1995 as the longest-married couple in America. She married her husband Paul in 1917 when he was twenty-one and she was thirteen … Maybe Mary was ready back in 1917, but there are no Mary’s in today’s world. Today, thirteen-year-olds are children.


intimacy needs are actually the primary ones for most teens—love leads to sex and not vice versa


romantic relationships of teens seem to differ from those of adults mainly in one respect. Teens move in and out of relationships extremely fast … we make it difficult or impossible for young people to marry, We isolate them from potentially more mature, more settled partners, we loudly dismiss their feelings as half-baked, we also corral large groups of young people, often against their will, into crowded pens nine or ten months a year. It should surprise no one that teens shift partners frequently.


our own system of marriage is the least successful in the world: 50 percent of first marriages here end in divorce, as do more than 60 percent of second marriages.


[men didn’t marry until a bit older because] The idea was evidently that a man that age has the maturity to keep her out of trouble and that if they became sexually active and conceived a child, he could handle his responsibilities, which a sixteen-year-old boy [sic] cannot.


Implicit in these laws is the assumption that all young people are incapable of experiencing the same kinds of loving feelings that adults do


These laws assume that no young people are capable of engaging in sexual activities responsibly.



When one looks carefully at the competencies required to function as an adult, one finds that once people have passed puberty, age is a poor predictor of competence


we concluded that there are fourteen different skill-sets or “competencies” that distinguish adults from non-adults (Page 148)

unless one is skillful in at least some of them, one will probably be considered immature or childish, no matter what one’s age. The people we consider to be mature are typically competent in many or most of these areas


know the difference between sex and love

physically self-sufficient. We make allowances when people are sick or injured

be able to make commitments and honor them. When they begin tasks worthy of completion, they’re supposed to persist in completing them.


Epstein-Dumas Test of Adultness (EDTA), which Diane administered to one hundred adults (from ages twenty to seventy-one, mean age 41.9) and one hundred teens (from ages thirteen to seventeen, mean age 15.2)

fifty-five of the adults in our sample were college graduates—more than double the rate of college graduates in the United States.

30 percent of the teens between ages thirteen and seventeen scored above the median score for adults. To put this another way, half of U.S. adults scored lower than nearly a third of our teens


in 1983 in the prestigious American Psychologist, Gary B. Melton concluded, “The existing literature clearly suggests that for most purposes, adolescents cannot be distinguished from adults on the grounds of competence of decision making alone


Cauffman and Steinberg found that the best predictor of decision-making competence was “psychosocial maturity” (measured by various inventories they administered to their subjects), not age


[Supreme Court] judges were basing their assertions about teen competence on folklore and intuition, rather than on scientific data. … many teens would score substantially higher on various competency tests than would some of the senescent members of our Supreme Court.


The laws assume that all young people are the same—and, in effect, that all adults are too


we deny young people a wide range of basic rights because we’re afraid they might be incompetent. We just assume, based largely on unanalyzed assertions passed down over generations, that under a certain age people are necessarily incompetent


“Teen Brain”

research shows unequivocally that the cognitive abilities of teens are, on average, superior to the cognitive abilities of adults. Reasoning ability peaks in the early or mid teens, for example, and so does intelligence. Most memory functions peak in our early teens, and all of these abilities decline throughout adulthood, some quite dramatically.


all of the formal operations—if they are going to be mastered at all—are typically mastered by age fourteen or fifteen … Many adults never achieve formal operational thinking, and if they haven’t done so by age fifteen or so, they probably never will.


one’s thinking ability will be stunted if one isn’t sufficiently challenged intellectually … Denied a wide range of adult challenges, American teens may be developing their intelligence in narrow ways


two of the most widely used intelligence tests in the Western world, the WISC and the WAIS, indicated that intelligence peaks at about age fifteen—and that it generally declines throughout adulthood


by the age of fourteen, a child’s trainability has reached its maximum, while after the age of thirty, a person’s ability to understand a new method of thinking, adopt new methods of working, and even to adapt to a new environment, steadily decreases. If the decline continues at the same rate after the age of sixty, it would appear that by the age of eighty, the average person’s capacity to succeed in the Matrices Test is less than that of the normal child of eight years, and it has, in fact, been found that old people only understand the test at all if it is given to them in the form of boards and movable pieces, just as one would give the test to a little child


children don’t remember much accidentally, and old people barely remember anything accidentally. But young teens have excellent incidental memory; without effort, they can remember things they never even intended to remember.


teen decision making may be inferior to adult decision making when a great deal of specific knowledge is required to make the decision


it’s possible that we’re supposed to take risks. Mating itself is a form of risk taking. You have to take many risks in order to find and keep a mate.


they often make decisions that seem inferior to adults for a number of reasons: they’re isolated from and infantilized by adults; they sometimes lack the specific knowledge they need to make good decisions; they might have some innate tendencies to take risks; and they’re immersed in a vacuous subculture that has rules and values that are often unfathomable to adults


a wide variety of behaviors—meditating, reading, drinking, having sex and so on—literally change the brain.


Re: “teen brain”: neither Yurgelen-Todd’s research nor the research of anyone else I’m aware of provides the scientific evidence needed to support the claims made in the article


Most of the time, a prodigy is just a young person with an obsession and an opportunity


Proposed Changes

Young people should be extended full adult rights and responsibilities in each of a number of different areas as soon as they can demonstrate appropriate competence in each area


a young person of any age who can pass a series of state-approved adult competency tests should be able, without court involvement, to receive a certification of emancipation from the state.


 I’d lean toward requiring young people to achieve a score that is at least at the fiftieth percentile level for adults eighteen and over—meaning that on each test the applicant must score higher than half of adults currently do.


The incentives for young people to prepare for the tests will be enormous, and even if they don’t pass all of the tests, they’ll still benefit from the process of preparation


We need shorter compulsory school hours, a shorter compulsory school year and fewer required school years.


Mandatory schooling needs to focus on the basics: reading, writing, arithmetic and citizenship


One of the most factory-like aspects of the modern school—segregation by age—needs to be ended.


any young person, no matter what his or her age, should be allowed to apply for any job. If he or she can demonstrate appropriate competencies, he or she should be taken seriously as a candidate. If he or she performs poorly, he or she should be fired


The rights can be given inalienably, as the Constitution provides, or they can be given in stages, based on competence demonstrated through a series of tests 


By giving competent young people full property rights, we lose some degree of control over them; in return, we get more responsible, secure, independent young people


Even if unemancipated, young people of any age who can demonstrate appropriate competencies should be able to make and revoke wills, sign contracts, file lawsuits and represent themselves in court. After all, we automatically extend such rights to many older people who lack the appropriate skills and understanding


no curfew should be allowed in this country unless it’s for everyone (excluding emergency personnel). Emancipated young people should be able move about as freely as adults. The wanderings of un-emancipated young people will have to remain under parental control because parents of dependent offspring are often held responsible for their wrongdoings.


I don’t want them to feign adulthood by drinking and smoking in dark alleys; I want them to be adults by drinking and smoking responsibly … To the extent that young people overindulge, I think there is only one legitimate solution: to integrate them into adult society. They are most vulnerable to mischief when they are with peers and less vulnerable when they are with adults


Regarding pornography, I believe that a young person who can pass an appropriate test of maturity should have access to materials that is similar to the access adults have


striking an adult is a criminal act called assault and battery, and therefore parents who strike their emancipated offspring should be subject to criminal prosecution. (Now there’s an incentive for young people to pass those emancipation tests.) But as long as young people remain unemancipated, parents should continue to have the right to strike them, with the proviso that when challenged by authorities, they should have a duty to show (a) that their use of corporal punishment was reasonable and appropriate (which means, among other things, that it didn’t cause injury) and (b) that other, less risky means of behavior management had been tried first


young people of any age who can pass a test that shows they will be competent voters—that they understand how government works and are familiar with current issues and candidates—should be given the right to cast full votes in relevant elections


Re: Age cutoffs—whether for the young or for the old—often imprison people on the wrong side of the line … Sometimes a young person who is weak in some respects (say, in verbal abilities) might be exceptionally strong in others (say, in mathematics or performance art). Age cutoffs can be stifling to such people; a competency-based system will allow them to flourish. … any age we pick for a cutoff point is necessarily arbitrary. Why bother? … because we are withholding rights and privileges until appropriate tests are passed, there is no downside to eliminating the age cutoff


When we say to our young people, “Okay, you want to be adults? Show us what you can do,” many will rise to the challenge. In effect, we will be tapping into one of the most basic of evolutionary imperatives: the desire to be independent. … As the numbers of young people who pass various tests or who achieve full emancipation multiply, adults will have no choice but to see young people through competency-colored lenses


The tens of millions of American teens who currently live their semi-lives immersed in trivia will be given the means and incentive to make meaningful contributions to our increasingly needy world.



a poll of fourteen hundred adults who were asked, among other things, when adulthood now begins in the United States. The answer was twenty-six


 the median age for first marriages in the United States is now about 26.8.


If we shelter our precious young from stress, work, criticism, failure and life on their own—in short, from adulthood—aren’t we making them less able to cope with the inevitable challenges of life?


Those Opposed To Teens

Government agencies are the worst offenders in the infantilization of our young for the simple reason that we now reflexively call upon government to solve almost every problem that confronts us. When teens are violent or sexually reckless or taking too many drugs, we expect government to step in, and government typically does so in simplistic, reactive, restrictive ways


Between 1880 and 1900, says Kett, “Protestant churches attempted, as never before, to take over the spare-time activities of youth


MTV programming tells us repeatedly and unequivocally that teens are irresponsible, overgrown children. MTV also happens to be, at least according to company materials, “the largest network on the planet,” reaching about 400 million households in the United States and other countries. That translates to more than a billion viewers—almost one-sixth of the world’s population


Teen spending is expected to be $208 billion by 2011


One of every three high school students now has at least one credit card. The proportion soars to 84 percent for college students.


in 1990, American industry spent about $100 million on advertising and marketing to young people; by 2000, the figure increased twenty-fold, to $2 billion. By 2006, the food and drink industries alone spent nearly that amount


About 24 percent of recorded music is purchased by young people between ages ten and nineteen


There are about four hundred thousand workers in today’s mental health professions*—a $100 billion industry23—with more than 70 percent of the industry devoted at least in part to serving the needs of teens


Confirmation Bias

The Fundamental Attribution Error

Cognitive Inertia

Social Influence and Prejudice


For more than a century now, we’ve been caught in a vicious cycle in which restrictions on teens have produced more teen problems and teen problems have in turn produced more restrictions


Other Resources



National Youth Rights Association – https://www.youthrights.org/

Join/Donate – https://www.youthrights.org/action/join-us/



A fourteen-year-old mother bears adult responsibility for her child and can be held criminally negligent for any harm to the child. At the same time, she may not drive a car, hold a full-time job, or rent an apartment, and in most states faces compulsory education laws…. The fourteen-year-old who faces a presumption of incompetency but bears the burden of presumed parental capacity


[Society can change, as it has changed in the past] – The very idea that the United States would put a waif-like female, barely out of her teens, in harm’s way during a major combat operation would have been completely unthinkable in the 1950s. … They now comprise about 15 percent of the United States armed forces

[Women are] 17 percent of patrol officers and other frontline police


people whom we universally consider to be weak, incompetent, feeble and desperately in need of our protection might actually have the potential to be strong, heroic, courageous, tough and independent. Second, as a society, we are sometimes capable of changing our perspective quite radically.


If G. I. Jane can measure up, doesn’t she deserve a chance to serve our country? And if a fifteen-year-old can also pass


in 1993 only 40 percent of Americans favored allowing gays to serve openly in the military; by 2004, the figure had risen to 67 percent


Bill Gates blossomed intellectually at eleven, strongly resisting any attempts by his parents to control his behavior. When Bill was twelve, Dad reacted to his extreme rudeness and sarcasm by throwing a glass of water in his face. A therapist recommended that his parents grant him more independence, which they did and then some. He spent long periods away from home during his teen years, programming computers at the University of Washington, serving as a page in the state legislature and collaborating with future Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen


Property that’s occupied by owners is maintained far better than property occupied by renters. Realtors say this phenomenon is the result of “pride of ownership”: people care about what they own. A third category of occupants—let’s call them prisoners, for want of a better term—is the worst kind of all.


adult freedom is enjoyed in the context of many restrictions and possible penalties


For government to single out any particular age group for a curfew seems to me to be a threat to our most basic liberties. Some old people don’t drive very well, and many probably drive more poorly in the dark. Does that give government the right to legislate curfews for the elderly? Blacks, on average, commit more crimes after dark than whites do; does that give government the right to legislate a curfew just for blacks?

The main problem with curfews that single out any particular group is that they turn perfectly innocent members of that group into criminals (that is, curfew violators) based merely on the remote possibility that some members of that group might commit a crime.


Americans today don’t care about competence in most of the activities of daily living


teens can’t organize to any great extent, because being a teen is temporary


[Re: Ending of Mary Poppins movie] Banks is supposed to put the immediate needs of his children—for affection, fun and nurturing—ahead of all else. After he is indeed fired, the film ends with Banks doing just that, literally flying kites in the park with his children—and, miraculously, with all of his fellow bank executives. The children-first message has, it seems, broken through not only to Mr. Banks but to all reasonable adults. We’ve seen these messages before (especially in Chapter Two): the family should be centered around children, who are helpless and incompetent. Parents should cater to the needs of children, not vice versa. Young people should be sheltered, not raised to be responsible adults. Childhood should be extended indefinitely


Bonus Excerpts — These are from the essay “The Folly of Protecting Teens from Work“, by James Bovard

Associated Press reported that 73 teens were killed on the job in 2000. This is far fewer than were killed and wounded in the narcotics business

Child Labor Coalition, one of the highest-profile advocates of restrictions on teen labor, includes the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, the Teamsters Union, the Service Employees International Union, and the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union.

People almost never petition Congress to restrict their own freedom of contract; rather, one group petitions politicians to restrict someone else’s freedom for its own benefit.

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