It was the end of the school year when I turned that magical number. I only had a week to go before crossing the stage, shaking Principal Hickman’s hand, and ending the first chapter of my life. Some of my friends had already crossed over from childhood to adulthood earlier that year, but I couldn’t really tell a difference. Most were still as lost as I was about the future and holding onto a carefree youth with all their might. They didn’t comprehend that when the clock ticked from 11:59pm to 12:00am their life drastically changed. They woke up, ate the breakfast their mother fixed and went to school. High School. They had girlfriends or boyfriends. They still held hands, still snuck kisses when the teachers weren’t looking, and made out at the movies. Nothing changed, although everything had changed.
Do you remember being 18? Do you remember being in high school? How about your first love? You weren’t thinking as an adult while you were in high school. You still thought as a child. Furthermore, you were treated as a child. So are the kids today. Being eighteen in high school means you can face all of the punishments of an adult, but don’t get all of the freedoms.
18 year old adults in high school still need their parent’s permission to go on a field trip. Why? They’re adults. They should be able to say, “Yes, I give myself permission to go.” They should also be able to keep their cigarettes on them just as the teachers do, because they are just as much of an adult. It shouldn’t matter that they’re students. They’re now eighteen, the magical number of adulthood. They should be able to drink, too. Why we make adults wait three more years to buy a beer when they can go off to war makes no sense. If we’re going to try them as adults, then they should be full-fledged adults. If we’re going to treat them as regular teenage high school students, then we need to go easier on them in other areas.
Personally, I think we need to move the age of adulthood to twenty-one. Teenagers are still teenagers. They think like teenagers. They go to school, have sleep overs, and cut classes. They don’t think like adults because nothing in their world has changed except the tick of a clock and the flip of a calendar page. We need to move the age. Allow them to finish high school before being labeled an adult and risking their future on childish behavior. Right now, there are too many mixed signals being sent to our “adult” students, and I think too many adults today have forgotten their own behavior back in the day of bells and pep rallies.
There needs to be a better transition into adulthood and that just won’t happen while they are in school, participating in sports and classes with those younger than them. Adults need to be separated from minors in those situations and treated as adults not children. If a seventeen-year old is in a relationship with someone younger, it’s unreasonable to expect it to change the minute they turn eighteen. The legal age should be moved to keep the lines from being confusing. People are either fully an adult or they’re not. I don’t care what their age is, school kids are not adults. They’re still behaving and treated like kids, and this needs to be changed. As time has progressed, so has the legal age. From thirteen, to sixteen, to eighteen, as the world has transformed and become more complicated. It’s time we changed it again and made it mean something more than chaos when one becomes an adult. Adults should not be students in high school.
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