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Young people from 10 to 24 years in age
-- numbering more than 1.8 billion --
represent 27 percent of the world's population.
The major task of adolescence is to become 'your own person'. Adolescents learn to make choices and commitments, follow through with them, and stand up independently in the world.
They need to be respected for taking on these tasks. After all, we respect adults who can do these things. They are complicated and courageous actions.
But teenagers swing back and forth between dependence and independence as they work on these tasks. It's easy for parents to get frustrated. And it's easy for a parent to assume that if the teenager would simply follow the plan that makes sense to a parent, things would be all right in the end.
Life is not so simple, of course -- not for teenagers and not for adults. In many ways, adults carry on the very same tasks of growth and development themselves -- after adolescence. Adults, however, usually have a greater sense of who they are -- what they value, what they need, and how best to get what they need -- than do teenagers.
False starts, mistakes, poor judgment, or impulsive action are part of growing up. And like teenagers, adults encounter these same challenges. It's just that adults are usually better prepared to meet the challenges.
The main tasks of adolescence require teenagers to learn, and this kind of learning is not just a matter of getting the right answer. Most important is to understand the meaning of the right answer. And maybe "the right answer" is something that teenagers need to build up, responsibly, from lessons of experience. This is truly difficult work and it absolutely requires support from parents, relatives, and neighbors.
To help adolescents grow up, parents need to be aware of their own growth. Everyone who is alive is changing, growing, and developing. It's easy for a middle-aged adult to forget this fact, especially when confronted with a difficult teenage problem. But parents who are working on their own growth are in a good position to understand teenagers and to respect what they are doing in the struggle to grow up and become good people in their own right.
Marriage Rights of Minors (pdf) ~ Currently twenty-eight states require the consent of one or both parents for the marriage of a minor under the age of 18. In addition, sixteen states set a minimum age for marriage. Courts can also attach additional conditions for underage marriage.
Minors' Access To STD Services (pdf) ~ All 50 states and the District of Columbia allow most minors to consent to testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and many explicitly include testing and treatment of HIV. Many states allow physicians to inform parents that the minor is seeking or receiving STI services when they deem it in the best interests of the minor.
Minors' Health Consent Laws ~ The legal ability of minors to consent to a range of sensitive health care services — including sexual and reproductive health care, mental health services and alcohol and drug abuse treatment — has expanded dramatically over the past 30 years. With regard to sexual and reproductive health care, many states explicitly permit all or some minors to obtain contraceptive, prenatal and STD services without parental involvement. In sharp contrast, the majority of states require parental involvement in a minor’s abortion. In most cases, state consent laws apply to all minors age 12 and older.
Parental Involvement in Minors' Abortions (pdf) ~ A majority of states require parental involvement in a minor’s decision to have an abortion. In light of two U.S. Supreme Court rulings that prohibit parents from having absolute veto over their daughters’ decision to have an abortion, many states require the consent or notification of only one parent, usually 24 or 48 hours before the procedure. Many parental involvement requirements also include a medical emergency exception and a judicial bypass procedure, through which a minor may receive court approval to obtain an abortion without parental involvement. Not all states adhere to this model.
State-by-State Provisions for Teenage Drivers ~ Driving licensing requirements for the 50 US states and the District of Columbia from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
State Laws on Emancipation of Minors ~ This page from the Cornell Law School links to the laws dealing with the emancipation of minors -- the provisions dealing with. when, and on what conditions children are released from parental authority and legally become 'adults'.
Youth Law By State ~ Laws that directly affect youth rights in the 50 states, District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.
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