Do Teens Really Understand Their Actions?

Teenagers may not really understand their actions due to their still-developing brain.

Teenagers are known for acting in ways that adults would consider reckless, impulsive and dangerous. Just recently, a 17-year-old boy sent two other teens to a hospital in Humble after he hit them both with his car. According to KHOU, the motive appears to be revenge as the victims reported the boy to police after he allegedly committed robbery the previous month. The boy was charged with that crime and will now face additional charges for this latest action.

It is easy to question why a teenager would engage in such an act, but it is also important to understand that a teen's mind is different from an adult's. Therefore, the teen may not really understand the full consequence of what he or she is doing.

The brain of a teenager

Science has shown that the brain takes years to develop fully. The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry states that even after someone reaches adulthood, the area of the brain used for rational thinking - the frontal cortex - is still in the process of growing. On the other hand, the amygdala portion of the brain develops much earlier. This part of the brain controls people's instincts and can cause what is known as the flight or fight response.

When a teenager is faced with an unexpected situation, the amygdala kicks in. This is why teenagers break into fights more frequently or they may become extremely aggressive when parents or other adults try to exert control over them. If teenagers have suffered a brain injury, or their mothers drank or did drugs during the pregnancy, their brain may not have developed normally and this can put them at risk of engaging in behaviors without pausing to really think about them.

Reckless behavior

The lack of full reason can affect teens in different ways. While some teens never get into trouble, act in thoughtful ways and have their focus on their future, other teens seem to behave in a more reckless manner. ABC News points out that the presence of emotions or stress can override a teen's maturing reasoning and lead them to commit crime or act out violently.

For example, if a teen feels pressured by classmates to engage in underage drinking, that teen is more likely to give in, especially if he or she is 15 or 16 years old. Another teen may be so angry on the inside that the teen attacks another person or tries to kill a family member. Teens who attack others may not even be able to fully explain why they did what they did except to say that they were angry or that their buttons were pushed.

Teenagers in Texas who give into these impulses may find themselves on the other side of the law and a conviction for a criminal act can jeopardize their future. Therefore, speaking with an experienced criminal defense attorney may be a good idea.