As your report "What Makes Teens Tick" aptly illustrated [May 10], science is catching up to what parents and teachers already know: teenagers' brains are different from adults'. The ability to make adult judgments comes later, as different parts of the brain develop. That is why our legal system does not allow people under 18 to vote, serve on juries or enjoy many of the other privileges and responsibilities of adults. It is also why juries are more and more unwilling to impose death sentences on juvenile offenders and why 31 states prohibit the practice. As we learn more from science and as it converges with legislation and the law, a consensus on this issue is increasingly clear. DENNIS W. ARCHER, PRESIDENT American Bar Association Chicago
As one of America's teenagers, I must say I am sick of stories that dissect teens' thoughts and lives. We are not science experiments; we are humans. Why is it necessary to pick us apart and figure out why we act the way we do? Does it take brain experiments to discover that we teens are rebellious? My 5-year-old brother could have told you that. I don't appreciate how teenagers are categorized as a group. Each of us is unique, just like every adult. NAME WITHHELD Tulsa, Okla.
Thank you for your insightful article. Those of us who are attempting to parent teenage offspring can firmly attest to the mystifying ways of the adolescent mind. The child you have loved and nurtured for years suddenly morphs into an exasperating stranger! Research showing that teens' brains are not fully developed, mature organs but continue to undergo structural changes up to age 25 is truly a relief for those of us who have agonized over a teenager's predilection for risk taking, impulsive behavior and overriding lack of good judgment. This research frees us to be patient rather than react with frustration and to understand that we must remain involved while teenagers grow into adulthood, offering them guidance, structure and firm rules. KIM TURPIN DAVIS, PRESIDENT The Parents Council Of Washington Bethesda, Md.
You overemphasized the importance of neural activity and brain physiology and made no mention of the need for moral guidance. Teenagers may read between the lines of the physiological mumbo jumbo and giggle with glee as they decide there is nothing they can do to change their ways. Why not discuss how dysfunctional family situations affect teen behavior? There is more to raising a teenager than studying the brain. CECIL ASFOUR Dallas
The obtuse rhetoric about adolescent moodiness was insulting to a large portion of today's youth, myself included. Many American teenagers are well-informed, intelligent citizens, and it's inappropriate to describe us as immoderate and out of control. Characterizing teen behavior as "exasperating" simply reflects stale stereotypes that harm the reputation of an entire age group. It is inadequate to dismiss adolescent angst as the result of structural changes in the physiology of the brain. JIM FIELDS Mountain View, Calif.
My 13-year-old son was captivated by your article. Thank you for enlightening my child. Now when I nag him for the umpteenth time to take out the garbage, I can see him replying, "Gee, Mom, I just don't have the motivation. It must be my immature nucleus accumbens." SANDY BARTELL Bellevue, Wash.
Who Controls the Economy?