The conundrum of putting adolescents into positions of power

The prefrontal cortex of the brain, we are told,  mediates decision making, is selectively involved in the retrieval of remote long-term memory and is the seat of good judgement.

The prefrontal cortex (PFC) is located in the very front of the brain, just behind the forehead. In charge of abstract thinking and thought analysis, it is also responsible for regulating behavior. This includes mediating conflicting thoughts, making choices between right and wrong, and predicting the probable outcomes of actions or events. This brain area also governs social control, such as suppressing emotional or sexual urges. Since the prefrontal cortex is the brain center responsible for taking in data through the body’s senses and deciding on actions, it is most strongly implicated in human qualities like consciousness, general intelligence, and personality.

We are also told that the prefrontal cortex is not fully developed till the age of 25 years or even later. Until the prefrontal cortex is fully developed a human is “adolescent”.

BBCChild psychologists are being given a new directive which is that the age range they work with is increasing from 0-18 to 0-25.

There are three stages of adolescence – early adolescence from 12-14 years, middle adolescence from 15-17 years and late adolescence from 18 years and over.

Neuroscience has shown that a young person’s cognitive development continues into this later stage and that their emotional maturity, self-image and judgement will be affected until the prefrontal cortex of the brain has fully developed. Alongside brain development, hormonal activity is also continuing well into the early twenties.

Most countries allow voting at age 18. Some allow voting even earlier:

Those with a national minimum age of 17 include East Timor, Indonesia, North Korea, South Sudan and Sudan. The minimum age is 16 in Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua and the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey (three self-governing British Crown Dependencies). People aged 16–18 can vote in Bosnia, Serbia and Montenegro if employed.

The mystery is why adolescents whose power of judgement is not yet fully developed are allowed to exercise this undeveloped judgement.

Even more perplexing is why adolescents with undeveloped judgement ability (those < 25 years old) are allowed not only to become armed soldiers and police but also politicians and even members of parliaments? We put them into positions of power where they must exercise their partially-developed judgement – even over others whose judgement is fully developed.

Why?

Statistics in Sweden are quite comprehensive and numbers for voters and politicians in the age group 18 – 29 are readily available. Conservatively, I take the age group 18 – 25 to be the majority (>50%) of the 18-29 age group.

Age group 18 – 25

  1. Proportion of electorate for parliament elections                           >10%
  2. Proportion of candidates                                                                       >6.5%
  3. Proportion of elected members of parliament                                  >5.5%

There is no getting away from the conclusion that over 5% of elected, Swedish members of parliament are adolescents whose brains are not fully developed and whose judgement is less than what it should be.

Interestingly, the proportion of the electorate older than 65 is 25% but the proportion of elected members of parliament over 65 is only 2.9%.

The only explanation I have is that in Sweden, “youth” has been made into a “politically correct” fetish with religious and mystical – if not electoral – significance.

It is not difficult to observe that many in the Swedish parliament today, and even some in government, are remarkably childish and quite clearly demonstrate that they are still adolescent.

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One Response to “The conundrum of putting adolescents into positions of power”

  1. UK election night entertainment | The k2p blog Says:

    […] is the youngest MP since 1667. She thrashed her Labour opponent. (But at 20 years old, we know that she is formally still an adolescent since her prefrontal cortex will not be fully developed till she is about […]

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