Should teens be tried as adults

juvie

 

This is a poem from a teenage boy, who is a convicted felon.  He wishes to remain anonymous

 

One Last Chance

All I need is one last chance
But will I get it?
Only the judge knows.
In the past, I’ve said I’m going to change
with no intention in my heart.
I say I want to stay sober
Yet all I want is to get high.
Everytime I get out
I run straight to the block
thinking they can help me manage my life
But all they do is corrupt me with the drugs
that make me a slave
So every day, I pray to my God
For just one last chance
to get out of the game.

Should adolescents be tried as adults?

I will be exploring how an adolescent thinks, vs. how an adult thinks. I will then explore the American justice system, and investigate if they take into consideration the science behind the results.

The science behind the brain
Neuroscientists have given a name to the process of the brain maturing, it is called neuromaturation. Our brain is made up of both grey matter and white matter. Grey matter is organized by the nerve cell bodies, and by most of the dendrites. Grey matter, has no myelin sheath around it. Grey matter is in control of our senses and motor regulation of the muscles. Grey matter is mostly matured between the ages of 11 and 12. It is the white matter that is a different story. White matter, as opposed to grey matter, has a myelin sheath. White matter is not matured until we are in our twenties. In a nutshell, grey matter does the processing and storage of information, while white matter forms the connections. So, metaphorically speaking, grey matter writes the email, and white matter delivers it.

So, why does white matter, matter?
White matter matters because it connects everything together. What does it matter if your mind is able to conduct good science based on hypothetical reasoning, if that reasoning cannot be delivered properly? So in essence, the different parts of the brain, are not able to communicate with one another as efficiently as an adult.
Do not forget about the frontal lobe
The frontal lobe, the last in line to get the myelin connections, is the last part of the processing. This is crucial because of what the frontal association does. It is responsible for attention, impulses, and motivation. I bold impulse because that is something that can really get someone into trouble.
So, what does this all mean?
It means that adolescents cannot process at the same degree that an adult does. Without a strong mind connection, the adolescent is not able to look at the whole picture when decisions are being made. They are not able to understand the long term consequences of what they are doing, and the potential risks of doing such behaviors might lead to. We must also understand that their coping mechanisms are not as good as a mature adult either. So that means they are much easier to influence and persuade.
Miller v. Alabama
Things are changing, fortunately. The United States Supreme Court, issued a ruling on June 25, 2012 stating that young adolescents cannot be prosecuted as if they were adults. The court also realized that children have tremendous potential for change, and that they need extra safety and kindness while in the criminal justice system.
Unfortunately, many people still believe children should be punished as adults. I have always been under the impression, if children are doing bad things, then bad things are happening to them. And what is the help in punishing someone who needs love and attention?
In conclusion
I do have faith in the system, Miller v. Alabama is a strong step in the right direction. I believe America has a very flawed criminal justice system, not just for the children, but for the adults as well. But that is another paper for another time.

References
Capuzzi, D. & Stauffer, M. (2016). Human Growth and Development Across the Lifespan: Application for Counselors. New Jersey: Wiley
Miller v. Alabama: EJI. Retrieved from http://eji.org/miller-v-alabama
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Election results

trump-obama-hilary

 

 

By guest post

I don’t dwell on politics but…I listened intently to the election results in anticipation. I could not help but think the election was reminiscent of Obama’s first election. We, as a nation, sought change. We elected the candidate we thought would bring us that change. Granted Trump is more rude and crude than most public figures, but, actions speak louder than words. We are and always will be a country of different views on everything. That’s why we are amazing!! We are allowed and encouraged to have those differences. Why should our president be an exception to that ideology? We asked for change, I think change is a gonna happen. Positive or negative is yet to be seen. The world is watching and waiting for our next move now. Donald Trump is going to take office, the sun will rise tomorrow and we will still all stand up with pride for our America. We need to buckle in and hang on to whatever ride he is going to take us on as a country. Just as we did 8 years ago. We still have the power to show the world that we are not divided, we will not let a change in our leadership weaken our America. Weaken our want for every country to have the same privilege we have, for every voice to be able to speak freely and be objective. We will endure, we will move forward. We are the land of the free and the home of the brave.

 

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Technology, food and type II diabetes

fat-kid1
The rise of technology, food and type II diabetes
The human being was designed to be active. The human being was not designed to be sitting all day, not moving. Our muscles do not get stronger unless they are used, if they are not used, they will inevitably atrophy. The human mind was made to be used. The mind, made from neurons not muscle, acts like muscle. The more I learn and interact with others, the more neural connections I will make, and thus, create intelligence. The human body was made to eat water rich foods, grown by the sun, with no preservatives. The human body was not designed to eat things that are processed, pumped with chemicals that I will never be able to pronounce. The children of America are not living the way the human body was designed to be lived. Where once children played outside, they are now inside playing video games. Where once kids ate fresh fruits and vegetables, they are now eating packaged food stuffed full of preservatives. Where once kids played with each other, they are now isolated by a glowing screen, promising the illusion of comradery.

A critical age
It is no mystery the devastating consequences our children are facing with the terrible life style choices that are presented to them. Type II diabetes was once unheard of in adolescent children, now it is the fastest growing diseases in that age group. And diabetes usually comes with obesity. Obesity is associated with hundreds of different types of illnesses, including heart disease and hypertension. The fact that children, between the ages of 6 and 14 are developing such diseases, is nothing short of mind blowing, and criminal. I say these harsh words because the children are not to blame. My question is, who is feeding them this food, why is there such an abundance of bad food. An adolescent’s brain is still developing, at that age, they are not going to be processing the same way as an adult. Because of this, if you are to have a salad on one side of the table, and a slice of Chicago deep dish pizza on the other, the child is of course going to eat the pizza (and probably most adults as well). The answer is because the pizza tastes better. The child is not going to be thinking of carbohydrates, triglycerides, and obesity. If ask a middle schooler if they would rather take a walk with me, or play Super Mario Kart, they are going to choose the video game, because it is perceived as much more fun! The adolescent is not going to be thinking about how a walk is going to improve cardiovascular function, blood pressure, brain activity and a bunch of other good things. The primary care takers, both in the micro society and macro society, have got to do their part in making sure our children are presented with the proper choices. How does a unhealthy population of children, both in the mind and body, benefit society? What is going on?

What’s going on?
The answer to that question is a complex one. There are many factors that play into why children are given such terrible choices in health. One is the breakdown of the family unit, where there is not enough time to plan a healthy lifestyle for children. Another problem is the capitalistic system, where the food industry values profit over nutrition, and profit equals unhealthy choices. Another problem is the rise of technology, and the value we place on such on such things. The consequences are going to be devastating, both in production and in the rise of health care. I am going to be doing my part as a counselor and speaker to speak out against this problem, and help come up with solutions.
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Media and mirror neurons

neuron

“Whoever controls the media, controls the mind”

― Jim Morrison

The miracle of mirror neurons
I talk about the importance of mirror neurons, because I have come across the knowledge of how much we learn by watching others. Of course, when I read this fact, I was at first fascinated, then petrified. Fascinated because of how awesome our mind is, and the ability of the brain to be able to learn just through observation. Petrified, because I then realized that if we learn by watching others, then we learn by watching what is on the media, and what is on the media is very scary stuff. We live in a culture that thrives on sexual and violent imagery for entertainment, and it makes me wonder how much of this visual stimulation is affecting the way we see the world. Our we learning things without even realizing we are learning things? In this paper, I hope to explain a little of what is going on with our mirror neurons.

What exactly are mirror neurons?
Simply put, a mirror neuron is a neuron that activates mutually when an animal performs and thus when an animal witnesses the same feat completed by another. I say animal, because humans are not the only species that do this. It is an important survival mechanism. Many animals learn by watching, and doing. Many animals are taught important skills. For example, young lions will watch their mother hunt, so they may learn to hunt as well. Not only will they watch her hunt, but then they will mimic what she was doing. The young cubs’ neurons will be firing on both the watching and the doing, so they will have the best success of survival.

The miracle of mirror neurons continued
Another reason why in our species mirror neurons are so amazing, is precisely the reason why we are so different than other animals. We are built one way, and we live life completely different than what we are built for. Let me illustrate, I have a body that is made for hunting and gathering, and I have primal instincts that have been utilized for hundreds and thousands of years. Society on the other hand, follows a completely different paradigm. So, I must live against many of my instincts, almost in a foreign world, something that goes against all of our natural biology. This feat, would be impossible, unless it was for the miracle of mirror neurons. How could I even fathom driving an automobile, working on computers, and reading books if it was not for this incredible skill.

The problem with mirror neurons, and the media
The number one video game in America in 2010, was Call of Duty: Black Ops. It sold over 26.2 million copies. So what is the big deal about that? Well, Call of Duty is a video game that displays horrific scenes of violence, and glorifies war. It creates a me vs. you, black and white thinking. The underlying message is that, violence makes you a hero, and killing others is a good way to solve problems. It would be ridiculous to think that those messages do not activate our mirror neurons, and is teaching us through both observation and action. There is a common phrase in the news media, “if it bleeds it leads.” So what do they mean by this? It is simple, violence creates ratings, and we have a system that thrives on ratings. So what this means is that we are a country that is fed fear on a daily basis, and this fear is being processed through our mirror neurons, and we are learning to be afraid of our very neighbors. Why is the media doing this? I have theories. A lot of television shows and movies are pumped with sexual stimulation and violence. Shows like Braking Bad, The Living Dead, and just about every block-buster movie hit there is, they all have extreme violence. Violence, is not doubt, entertaining, but unfortunately our mirror neurons are processing all of this, and we are learning through this ferocious medium. I believe, especially with those without a sound mind, it may get harder to distinguish imagination from reality.

So, what to do….
It is time to change the channel to things that we may benefit from learning, or just turn off the television itself. People can start focusing on things that they admire, and want to achieve themselves. For example, if I want to be a more optimistic, and happy individual, then I need to observe and do things that are more optimistic and happy. It may seem like a simplified solution, but sometimes the simplest solutions are the best.

 

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