Beyond Scared Straight -Juvenile Justice Reform: Does the Adolescent Brain Make Risk Taking Inevitable? A Skeptical Appraisal

Via Scoop.itJuvenile Brain theory

Increasingly influential theories hold that the “teenage brain” suffers cognitive flaws that impel risk taking. Aside from warnings by leading researchers that brain science is insufficiently advanced to yield definitive findings that teenage behaviors are internally driven, the belief that adolescents take excessive risks has been developed using biased measures and without first ruling out alternative external explanations. In fact, the best demographic, crime, and health statistics show that adolescents do not take excessive risks compared to adults, adolescent risks are associated much more significantly with conditions of poverty and corresponding adult behaviors than with uniquely adolescent factors, and middle-aged adults exposed to the same high poverty levels as American youth display similar or higher levels of crime, violent death, firearms mortality, traffic fatalities, and other behaviors conventionally associates with adolescents. “Teenage brain” theories and the views of youth and policies they entail require much more rigorous scrutiny than they have received to date.

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