It Could Be the Brain

teens fighting

When I’m at a social gathering and someone asks what I do, I tell them I write and teach. Of course, the next question is always at what level I teach. When I answer high school, there is often a general rolling of the eyes and a sympathetic clucking of tongues.

Many people continue, “How do you stand it? Teens are so rude and violent these days.”

I’m happy to report that this hasn’t been my experience. The teens I work with are respectful and for the most part, peaceful. (At the risk of sounding incredibly sappy, I must admit that I adore the teens I teach.)

However, I know where my acquaintances’ questions are coming from – things we hear in the news can paint a scary picture.

Today I read an interesting article about how teens are more likely than adults to lash out than to flee.  The reason isn’t just that adults are more practiced at controlling themselves. Preliminary findings indicate that the actual reason has to do with the brain itself. Results suggest that “limbic prefrontal circuitry during adolescence coincide with the likelihood of approaching, rather than retreating, from danger in emotionally charged contexts.” Which is to say that teens are more likely to engage with danger.  (To read the entire article, click here.) Could this be one of the reasons that teens, particularly males – according to this study, engage in confrontational behavior? It’s an intriguing thought which I believe warrants more study.

The article continues on to say that the “propensity to act on impulse” is a transient developmental stage in teens.

This information does supply some interesting plot points for YA literature. Authors dig deeply in the drama of conflict wherever it may appear!

Yes, it’s fun to read about; perhaps not so much fun to live.

How about you? What do you think? Are teens more prone to court danger than to flee from it? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

And as always, thanks for stopping by.


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Filed under Teen Life

2 responses to “It Could Be the Brain

  1. Thank God that the “propensity to act on impulse” is indeed transient! I’ve raised a number of teenage boys and I can tell you that they most definitely “act” first and “think” later. They are also prone to adrenal and testosterone surges that cannot be underestimated in their ability to wreak havoc with reason. Add to that, the natural curiosity of boys to unearth and engage in any challenge set before them…especially in view of their peers, and you have a recipe for disaster! I think that’s why teen boys are so fun to write as characters. They are unpredictable, emotion-driven, and appear fearless (which could, by adult standards, come across as stupid). I find it challenging to write realistic teens and find the balance between making them believable and having them be worthy heroes who act responsibly. Thoughtful post!

    • Thanks, PJ! I only raised one boy, but as a teacher, I feel like I’ve raised hundreds! Ha! And I must say, for those boys, it’s always a relief when they begin to move out of that developmental stage and begin to think a bit before jumping right into the fray! (Not as exciting to write about, however!)

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