OP/ED: 18: Are You Really An Adult?


Every day online, there is a new debate with men crying about being perceived as weird for pursuing 18-year-olds. Grown men in their 30s, 40s, 50s, saying they’re not abnormal for wanting a teenager. Their reasoning is hiding behind the law. 

“Eighteen is the legal age.”

This dynamic has been normalized for decades by society, Hollywood, and ultimately the law. A 40-year-old can be with an 18-year-old without anyone batting an eye. An eighteen-year-old can be pursued by anyone older without any legal restrictions. Meaning a real grown adult, maybe 45, can date an 18 and not be considered a pervert.

For Hollywood, Leonardo DiCaprio is a perfect example of this. As much of a talented actor he is, it’s not enough to look the other way when he constantly only dates freshly turned “adults” despite being near 50-years-old. I can’t help but think if he would go lower if the law wasn’t in the way or if he wasn’t in the public eye.

Unfortunately, this is not the only problem with America’s legal age. (I say America because I can only speak for the country I live in. Although this is certainly a problem with other countries.)

America specifically has adopted this culture where it’s custom to completely abandon a child when they reach 18. I’ve seen countless stories online where parents express that they will completely halt all their parental responsibilities once their child turns the legal age. It’s sad that they are viewed as someone who can be independent at that age.

Of course, some people develop differently and can very much be capable of starting their own life but what is the real age of maturity?

I did some research.

My first stop was Wikipedia. They state “the age of majority is the threshold of legal adulthood as recognized or declared in law.”


But then they go on to say, “Age of majority should not be confused with the age of maturity, age of sexual consent, marriageable age, school-leaving age, drinking age, driving age, voting age, smoking age, gambling age, etc., which each may be independent of and set at a different age from the age of majority.”


The age of maturity should not be confused with…the age of maturity. Meaning, the age of maturity law wise is not on the same level as the age of maturity developing-wise.

I did some more research.

According to a research study published by the Natural Library of Medicine, the “…brain development is not complete until near the age of 25 years…” This is due to the prefrontal cortex. 

“The prefrontal cortex is one of the last regions of the brain to reach maturation, which explains why some adolescents exhibit behavioral immaturity.”

In many countries, 18 is the legal age for activities such as voting, military service, and purchasing cigarettes and alcohol.

The brain is not done developing until 25. Yet it’s perfectly legal to trust an 18-year-old with [finish].

So, if anyone is confused on where I stand, here’s my take:

The age of 18 should not be the legal age of adulthood. What is the difference between a 17-year-old and an 18-year-old?

Turning 18 does not automatically grant the mind more maturity than it had yesterday.

What reason can justify a 17-year-old yesterday dating a 45-year-old today because they are one year older? What reason can justify kicking out your 18-year-old daughter because they are one year older?

18 is not an adult. 18 is a child with more responsibility. 

“Eighteen-year-old adults can run for office, go to strip clubs, be sentenced to life in prison, and volunteer to go to war or be drafted, but as of last December, they cannot vape or smoke tobacco products,” said Maria Cramer, from the New York Times.

The logistics are not adding up.

This is not an attempt at babying people. At some age these [word???] should be granted. But that age is not 18.

Again, I don’t want 18-year-olds to be coddled. [some freedom] But I believe we should be a little bit kinder. 

We only live in a cruel society because we created one.