PSYC 523 Blog #4: Suicide Around the World

For my final blog I want to discuss and shed some light on a sensitive topic that I believe needs to be addressed: Suicide. *Trigger Warning*

Suicide has recently come into the public sphere to a greater degree than before due to the ever-so-popular Netflix series, “Th1rteen R3asons Why”. Now, I’m not going to get into a debate on my personal views about the show but rather, I would simply like to point out the attention it has given the topic of suicide. I think we can all agree on that at least.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the series, it is based on a book with the same title by Jay Asher. The show revolves around a teenage girl, Hannah Baker, who attempts suicide after numerous culminating struggles in her life brought on my select individuals from her high school.

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The series therefore, has brought new awareness surrounding suicide. It even shows graphic scenes depicting her attempt. While critics argue that it was unnecessary and even potentially dangerous, producers wanted to portray a very surreal and raw image.

Hannah’s reasons for her suicide were left on prerecorded tapes that recounted the details of her misfortunes. Not all people have the same reasons, however. There are numerous cultural, social, psychological and emotional differences. I’m now going to show that by giving ya’ll some information about suicide in a few countries.

Suicide in the United States

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the rate of suicide in the United States has increased by a shocking 24% within the last 18 years alone. I find that statistic so disheartening. It makes me question whether some were not reported in the past or if it really is just a rapidly multiplying occurrence. Suicide is also currently the second leading cause of death among young and emerging adults. The largest increases in suicide have been seen in males in their fifties. USA Today reported that there are far fewer homicides than suicides and that one suicide happens every thirteen minutes in the U.S. Those numbers are really eye-opening. Although that seems like such a high prevalence rate, the United States is actually in a four-way tie for 48th place among countries worldwide. Let’s take a look at how a couple of other countries compare.

Suicide in Nepal

Nepal drastically differs from the United States in terms of suicide rates. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), they have a much lower prevalence rate with 7.2 per 100,000, whereas the U.S. sees 12.6 per 100,000. This may not seem like much of a difference but taking the total population into consideration, it is. There are arguments among researchers as to whether these results are very accurate. Incidence of suicide tends to be underreported due to both cultural and social pressures, and in some areas it is completely unreported. Since the data might be skewed, comparing suicide rates between nations paints a statistically inaccurate picture.  For example, attempted suicide is illegal in Nepal and people who attempt suicide (when caught) are subject to imprisonment, fines or both. Therefore, any suicide figures for Nepal will underestimate the actual incidence. Imagine the United States government fining people or throwing them in jail for attempted suicide. Would that not worsen their outlook and only increase the risk for more future attempts?

Suicide in Sri Lanka

According to recent studies done by the WHO, Sri Lanka tops the list of suicide prevalence rates. Strangely enough, the small island nation has one of the highest rates in the world. Unfortunately poverty, joblessness, high debt burdens and other social problems—the main factors behind the high suicide rate—are rampant throughout the country. Poverty, social inequality and homelessness have worsened dramatically only making matters poorer. Though the rates have declined in recent years, it remains among the worst globally. One reason for that could be because the government is attempting to cover up the real picture. State village officers are being directed by the government not to issue death certificates for a suicide. Suicide in Sri Lanka therefore, is a long term social issue. By not openly discussing suicide and engaging in conversation about it, Sri Lanka is simply hurting its citizens.

world suicide data.png

The reality is that no matter what country we are talking about, suicide is an important topic. It is serious and deserving of recognition. I realize that sometimes talking about it too much or romanticizing it can be potentially harmful, but we need to find the happy medium. We can’t go on avoiding it or people may be too scared to come forward to look for help. Chances are, we all know someone who has committed suicide, attempted suicide, or thought about it. Those are people all around us, the ones whom we care about. We need to do more to stand up for them when they feel like they can no longer stand up for themselves.

“We need to change the culture of this topic and make it okay to speak about mental health and suicide”

Here are a few resources to turn to for you or someone you know, if need be:

https://afsp.org/TWLOHA

https://www.sa.sc.edu/shs/cp/

http://www.youcannotbereplaced.com/

http://www.spsamerica.org/

http://www.suicide.org/index.html

https://www.save.org/

http://www.suicideispreventable.org/

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PSYC 523 Blog #3: Marriage Satisfaction

Most people, especially females, our age are highly concerned about marriage at this time in life. As I walk across campus, I hear students talk about wanting to be married by “this date”, at “this location”, with “this, that, and the other” thing. They then proceed to mention the fact that they are not even in a relationship currently… We are not only preoccupied with getting married, but also for having a satisfying marriage that does not end down the dreaded path of divorce.

In one of the recorded lectures we reviewed, it mentioned some marriage facts and stats, which intrigued me. I felt like it would be the perfect topic to write about considering how relevant it is to students our age.

I was personally surprised to learn that marriage was one of the three most important sources of happiness in Americans twenty-one years and older. Although marriage was a source of happiness and satisfaction, it comes with limits. There were admissions to problems with marriage, as is typical. Even though women were more likely to admit to problems, men did admit to them, just fewer. Ironically, younger women ages twenty-one to thirty-four admitted it the most. They also had the highest divorce rates. To think, the very group that we think of as desiring marriage the most, has the worst problems surrounding it.

While younger women tend to admit to the most problems, women are most satisfied as newlyweds. This happiness tends to drop and continue to do so until children are out of the home. After the children leave, the happiness increases again as the couple ages together. They are often happy to have some alone time and are appreciative that their partner is still alive.

Below are some pieces of advice I have collected for ways to have high marriage satisfaction:

“Be VERY married!”

“Give your spouse the very best of yourself, not what’s left over after you have given your best to everyone else.”

“Sweat together.”

“Show some PDA occasionally.”

“Ask, don’t tell.”

“Prioritize your partner.”

“Always answer the phone.”

“DATE NIGHTS!”

“Marriage should be 100-100, not 50-50.”

“Secrecy is the enemy of intimacy.”

Culturally Significant:

Marriages around the world see a U-shaped graph in terms of satisfaction throughout life. It is not only specific to the United States. That is, if it is a marriage by choice. Many non-western countries have a practice of arranged marriage. In these cases, satisfaction is much lower during the initial stages due to unhappiness stemming from a lack of choice regarding their partner. It increases slightly as the couple ages and becomes more content in dealing with each other.

PSYC 523 Blog #2: How Much of Your Memory is Real?

Let’s be honest here: Memory, and the process of losing it, is an intriguing topic. Most of us are concerned with keeping an intact memory store for as long as we possibly can. But, is it possible?

Memory failure happens to all of us throughout our lives. We don’t have to be ninety-five and in poor health to forget where we put that damn remote…Often times however, we don’t even think about our memory until it fails us. Once it does fail us though, that is all we can think about for the time being.

How many times have you forgotten where you put something and thought to yourself, “This is it. My memory is slipping. I’m going to have dementia by the time I’m thirty.”? I won’t lie, I’ve done it on numerous occasions. I know that is just me being a little bit dramatic, but sometimes I really do wonder. As we age, that wonder turns to worry and increases with time.

Even though we know that our memory struggles sometimes, there have been people who claim that they can remember absolutely everything. They can remember what they had to eat three years ago to this day, or what they wore on December 9th, 2001, apparently. I found one example of a man named Frank Healy. At fifty years old he was sat down and questioned on his seemingly extraordinary memory by a group of researchers. He is said to have a type of memory known as “Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory”. This means that he has an uncanny ability to remember dates and events. Although Frank’s incredible memory sounds like it could be so helpful in recounting important details from the past, it is not quite as accurate as it seems.

Memory is fallible. We all forget, and even when we think we can remember something with insurmountable detail, we could be making it up in our mind. Even those like Frank are just as susceptible to false memories as anyone else. Memories can become contaminated by things that did not truly occur. An example of this is the terrorist attacks on 9/11. People our age generally remember being fairly young, possibly in kindergarten at the time. If asked how they remember hearing about the attacks, a common response is on the television. They recall watching it in the classroom as it happened. Now this is true for some folks, but clearly not for everyone.

We tend to “remember” it that way because that is how it has been discussed over time. Adults who were older may have had the experience of turning on the news at work and watching it. After hearing this information for so long, we tend to make that our own memory as well, even if that’s not the way that it really went. If exposed to misinformation following an event, people are likely to develop the false memory that was planted. You may think that something  such as this is very trivial and of little significance. Who cares if we forget how we learned about the attacks? In this case it is not a huge deal, but in others it presents a large problem.

There was a period of time where therapists were highly trained in the theory of recovering “repressed memories”. These “memories” were often extremely traumatic and harmful to patients trying to “recover” them. Numerous studies have proved that instead of recovering actual memories, therapists had instilled in the person’s mind some false ones instead. This happened as a result of their word usage and incessant probing. A famous case regarding a young women who “remembered” being raped by her father proved the amount of harm that could be done with false memories. Although the therapists truly believed that they were helping their patients recover honest memories, they were instead causing damaging effects.

No matter what happens, some memories can never be replaced…

I found that above quote and it really made me think. We imagine some events in our lives as irreplaceable. We see them as moments that can’t be topped or forgotten about. We’ve all done it. But, after reading more literature about false memories and how unreliable our memory can be, it makes me reconsider. While not all, or even most, memories are false there are some that can be. Falsely remembering things won’t usually do much harm, but remember (ironic) this concept when in an argument with someone over something that happened. Try to think about the possibility that you could both be “remembering” the details in a slightly different manner.

*Culturally Significant*

While researching memory, its different types, and how it fails, I came across some differences between Americans and East Asians. It turns out that where we are from may have an impact on what we are able to remember better. Our culture affects memory by influencing what we view as important. Allegedly, Americans can recall objects better than East Asians. East Asians are more likely to remember people, on the other hand. I think this might have something to do with the fact that Asian countries are generally more collectivistic in nature than individualistic. It is also possible that these results may shape how children are taught in schools in the future.

For more information on the facts presented visit:

https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/11/how-many-of-your-memories-are-fake/281558/

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2530044/How-youre-affects-memory-Americans-recall-objects-better-East-Asians-likely-remember-people.html

PSYC 523 Blog #1: Old Folks and Misconceptions

We’re all scared of growing old, right? Wrong. Aging is something that we have to look forward to because with aging, comes new experiences. Too many people view aging in a negative light, however. They see it as the inevitable nearing to the end. But, how old are you really, if you don’t actually know how old you are?

What I mean by that is there are numerous ways to think about your age. Age does not have to be solely defined by the chronological number of years a person has inhabited this earth. There are other types of age such as biological, psychological, social, and functional. Why limit ourselves to dreading each year we add a number to our lives when we can instead, appreciate the new knowledge we have gained?

Because there is this seemingly important social clock that we all like to abide by, we place value on our lives based upon social norms, rules, and typical roles. It is especially the case for older adults who think that as they age, they can no longer play a certain role, but they must change and conform to another that is more socially accepted. This mindset can absolutely be detrimental. It can cause individuals to feel older, simply by acting like it. While many of our senses do diminish as we age, there is so much more to live for than that. This mindset and conformity, can, and usually does, result in huge stereotypes surrounding older adults.

There were nine examples given for common stereotypes regarding older adults presented in one of the recorded lectures we reviewed. I’d like to give my personal opinion on a few of these and share a couple of stories along the way.

  • More Alike

The first stereotype was that older adults are all alike. Clearly, that is not the case. For instance, in talking to my grandparents I can see that even though they have been together for a number of years, they still have very distinct characteristics. My grandfather served in the Vietnam War, and my grandmother worked as a receptionist. My grandpa is a huge sports fan, and my grandma struggles to sit through any sporting event. As you can tell, they are markedly different people who have lived through different experiences that shape their personalities. Although they do have many commonalities too, they are not homogeneous, as goes for the rest of the older adult population.

  • Unproductive

There is this notion that because older adults retire and no longer hold a job, they are somehow unproductive with their life. That may certainly be the case for specific individuals, but it is not the case for all. My dad’s mom is one great example of this. She has been retired for as long as I can remember, but I would argue that at times, she’s even more productive than I am as a college student! She leads an extremely active lifestyle and is constantly running around doing various errands or entertaining guests at her house. Although she does not get paid to do these things, she still manages to stay busy an productive. If she did not go along efficiently, she would not be able to get half as much done as he usually does. Some older adults even choose to go back into the work force because they want to make sure they maintain and uphold values of productivity. Their choice is usually not even dependent upon monetary compensation. I think that the emphasis on money determining productivity is a big problem with this stereotype in general. Many younger generations see money as the only source of productivity when there are many sources in reality.

  • Lonely

This might be one of the biggest stereotypes I hear about in regards to older adults. This one also probably makes me the saddest. I hate to think about older individuals, especially my own family members, feeling that they are lonely. It is true, that as we age we lose an increasing number of important people in our lives, but that is not to say all is lost. A lot of older individuals find solace in joining groups, taking classes, volunteering, or other such activities. For instance, my grandma enjoys volunteering at nursing homes or animal shelters. As I mentioned before, she also entertains numerous guests throughout the week at her house. It is always so lively whenever I visit, which makes me realize that loneliness is not an inevitable factor of life as we age.

Seeing these things first-hand has helped me to realize that there truly are a lot of misconceptions about old folks. It has opened my eyes to the fact that they are not necessarily factual for every single person. Each individual lives a separate life that can not be grouped into one large all-encompassing category. Because of this personal experience, I’ve become a huge advocate for changing the ideas that the younger generations stick to. At times, it can seem like we are more rigid than we make them appear to be. How ironic.

Not all countries have these views, however. There are many that do not hold these stereotypes. These are in stark contrast to some other countries that look at the elders of the community in a high regard. They emphasize the aging process because, to them, it means a more prestigious title than they had earlier in life. For example, in Korea, they have been known to celebrate the old. The Japanese and Chinese cultures do the same. They prize filial piety and see it as the basis of life, whereas Western cultures are widely seen as “youth-centric”. The idea of collectivism helps those Eastern hemisphere countries to maintain their importance on the older adults.

Check out this link for more on how other countries view aging adults:

http://theweek.com/articles/462230/how-elderly-are-treated-around-world

Lastly, I leave you with this quote to think about as you perceive the “old folks” and make your judgements:

“The tree of knowledge and the fountain of youth are one and the same”

Marriage Around the World

As we all know, marriage can be an exciting time in life. It is a time typically filled with anticipation, happiness, and high emotions. But, marriage is not the same all over the world. Not everyone experiences marriage as a new and welcomed luxury. Some people are forced into marriage, and at a young age. Others partake in silly rituals that they do not believe in solely for the purpose of maintaining correct traditions. So, let’s take a look at marriage customs around the world to see how various cultures view the unionizing ceremony.

CHINA: China has a lighthearted idea when it comes to before the wedding rituals. It has some hints of the American college Greek Life. In China, the bridesmaids give the groom (and possibly the groomsman) a hard time by putting them through a series of tests and challenges. The hope is to see if the groom is worthy enough of the bride. Finally, the groom must pay off the bridesmaids with an envelope full of cash. This hazing-esque ritual seems like it could potentially be a fun time, however I can see how it could be taken too far. As long as your bridesmaids don’t take advantage of your fiancé, I think this playful tradition isn’t too bad.

CONGO: While the majority of people are filled with excitement and anticipation of their wedding, Congolese brides and grooms are required to keep theirs in check. They are not allowed to smile during their entire wedding day, from the ceremony to the reception. Personally, I think this would be quite difficult to do. Thinking about the one you will potentially spend the rest of your life with should make you happy and want to smile, however some cultures may not promote love as the number one reason for marriage which would likely make it easier on these people to refrain from showing happiness.

CUBA: Cuba is a country with a tradition that has been spread all over the world, including in the United States. It is a Cuban custom that every man who dances with the bride must pin money to her dress to help the couple pay for the wedding and the honeymoon. With a twist on this custom, the U.S. has the “dollar dance” where everyone, no matter the age or gender, pays the bride a dollar to dance with her. What a great way to get some money, but not a great way to please guests of the wedding.

FRANCE: The French are known for their love of chocolate and champagne. In fact, the bride and groom must consume both the night before their wedding. Sounds great, right? Not when you hear that they must do so out of a toilet to show that they have the strength to endure marriage together. If I lived there, I would probably make a deal with my husband telling everyone we did so, but I do not think I would actually go through with it. After all, there’s a great possibility you could become sick on your wedding day, not to mention it is just plain disgusting.

GERMANY: In Germany couples who clean together, stay together. At least, that is the idea behind their wedding tradition. Guests of the couple smash dishes on the ground so that the couple can work together in cleaning it up. I think it is a great idea to promote cooperation between the couple, however breaking perfectly usable dishes in order to do so just seems silly to me.

GREECE: The groomsmen in Greece take their title quite literally. Before the wedding, one of the groomsmen must become the groom’s barber as he shaves the face of the groom. Even if it does end in a few cuts here and there, the day doesn’t end so poorly for the groom. He is fed honey and almonds by his future mother-in-law as well. As long as you have trust in your groomsmen, I don’t think this would be a bad tradition to partake in.

JAMAICA: The tradition in Jamaica seems more harmful than helpful to me. In any case, the bride is to stand in the street in her wedding attire while the townspeople shout out negative comments about her dress. If the critiques are mostly negative, the bride must return home to make a second try at looking good. Personally, I think this is a demeaning custom because it weakens the bride’s self-esteem on her special day. I realize that she wants her guests to think she looks good, however there is simply no pleasing everyone and no point in trying to do so.

JAPAN: Japanese brides who choose to partake in a traditional Shinto wedding ceremony must dress in white from head to toe. That includes their makeup, kimono, and hood. White is supposed to denote the bride’s maiden status and the hood is to hide the “horns of jealousy” she harbors for her mother-in-law. Seems to me that this was a custom most likely created by a mother-in-law who did not get along well with her son’s bride-to-be.

KENYA: In my eyes, Kenya is another country that has a quite odd tradition. After a wedding ceremony in Kenya, but before a Masai bride leaves with her new groom, the father of the bride spits on her. The purpose of this tradition is to not tempt fate by being too supportive of the newlyweds. I think this is a very strange way to show this idea. If they want to not tempt fate they could do so in other ways such as spitting on the ground in front of the couple. Although I would not approve if my father did that, it still seems like a better idea than being spit on.

MAURITIUS: In this country, the tradition doesn’t seem all that bad in theory. While many American brides are known to starve themselves before their big day so they can “look better” in their dress, brides in Mauritius are forced to put on the pounds. In their culture, a larger bride looks better on the husband because he is seen as wealthy enough to have such a well-fed wife. I do not condone forcing someone to unhealthily change their body for their wedding, but this tradition at least wards off the stigma of people who are overweight.

PHILIPPINES: In the Philippines, a couple releases two white doves at their wedding, one male and one female. They release them into the air to represent a harmonious life together for the newlywed couple. This tradition has been spread all over the world now, and is even used in some American weddings to symbolize the cohesiveness of the couple.

There are numerous wedding traditions that take place all over the world, it would be impossible for me to name them all. But, it is important to note the wide variety of emphasis that is placed on different ideas. Rituals can promote high fertility, a lasting marriage, a faithful spouse, and much more. Others are based more on giving to the family-to-be to show worthiness. While some customs seem quite drastic and unnecessary to most of us, we have to realize that people celebrate with vast differences, and that is okay.

There are many ways to say “I do!”

UNITED STATES: Classically, the U.S. has a tradition of wearing something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue. Also, a bride often tosses her bouquet at the reception to the many single females in the crowd, hoping that whoever catches it will be the next to get married. These things are done out of tradition, just as the other countries mentioned previously do. Although the traditions are not exactly the same in all cultures, what binds the seemingly disparate customs from near and far is one simple thing: love (or the hope of it).

When it comes to weddings, there are no borders.

As for my wedding, I will most likely partake in some of the most typical Americanized wedding traditions. I would probably do so just because it is common, not because I feel like it is absolutely necessary in order for my marriage to last and remain strong. There are so many decisions that come with getting married like which rituals to perform, where it will be located, how many people will be there, and so much more. While I don’t plan on getting married for a few more years, I recently did discover a beautiful place where I would love to have my wedding one day (if I can ever afford it). On my visit, a bridal party was preparing for their own wedding ceremony. Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds even held their ceremony at this site!

Boone Hall Plantation:

cotton-dockoak ave.jpgboone-hall

What About the “Old Folks”?

In recent assignments we have read about and discussed the myths regarding aging adults. Some of the most common myths included were that they are inflexible, unproductive, cranky, lonely, and sexless. These ideas can certainly describe some older adults but absolutely not all of them, or even the vast majority.

Older adults are often misunderstood by people of younger generations because they do not interact or spend enough time with each other. They generally have different responsibilities and hobbies that don’t allow for them to interact very often. I, on the other hand, have had the great opportunity of interacting with my grandparents and their peers quite frequently.

By spending time with older adults, I have come to realize that there are so many misconceptions about them. While their bodies may not allow them to be as active as my-college aged-self, they do still enjoy staying active. For example, one of my grandmas loves to garden and do yard work. She sees it as a way of keeping herself moving by doing something that she loves. My other grandma enjoys going to the gym to do some light walking or biking. She also incorporates minimal weight training into her workouts. Her husband attends the gym with her too, but instead he prefers to swim. Since he has had both of his knees replaced, he can’t put as much pressure on them so swimming is a great alternative to things like running.

It seems like my grandparents have constant visitors, too. Sometimes I think they have a better social life than I do! When I was living near to them I would visit at least once a week, if not more. While I was there the phone would always go off or someone else would come over to chat. I sometimes wonder if they do so in order to keep my grandparents from being lonely, or if they just enjoy the company. I can only speak for myself, but I just really love to spend time with them. One of my grandmas consistently looks forward to my weekly rants about how classes have been going, or what is the newest gossip in my life. Its exciting to realize that they are not so different than I am in certain aspects.

My grandparents are old but they are not inflexible, unproductive, cranky, or lonely. (I can’t comment on their sex life because I do not know the answer, nor do I really care to find out).

I’m glad to have the luxury of seeing my grandparents so often. I know that they have all had a large impact on my life and have helped me get this far. I can’t imagine not having them in my life anymore, although I know the day will come sooner than I hope for. A century ago however, many kids would be without their grandparents at this point in their lives due to the lower life expectancy. With increased research and medical care for aging adults, we have recently seen an increase in the number of years to live. According to the Pearson textbook, soon there will be more aging adults than ever before as birth rates decrease and older adults live longer. Because of this, we have a smaller amount of people in the work force and more emerging into the life of pension living.

In the past decade alone, the age of retirement has gone up due to low funds in social security and a high demand for it. Developed countries, such as the U.S. are struggling to face the difficult challenges due to the rising old-age dependency ratio. With less money and more people in need of it, they have to come up with strategies to limit the number seeking it.

Culturally Significant:

In fact, Japan is currently struggling with this problem the greatest. Their OADR is already higher than most and is steadily rising. Another reason for this problem is that Japan has been quite slow to react. Many of their companies require midlife adults to retire at age 60 when they typically still have at least 20 years left to live and accumulate retirement money. One step that they have taken however, is called the “New Old People’s Movement”. It has recently sprung up to promote the well-being of older adults by advocating for a more active, engaged way of life for the elderly, including remaining in the work force for a longer duration.

The Dangers of Driving

In chapter 9 of the final module we read about just how dangerous driving can be, especially for new drivers. New drivers in emerging adulthood are the most likely to be risky drivers, which increases their chance of some type of automobile accident. In fact, across developed countries the most serious threat to the lives and health of adolescents and emerging adults is from auto accidents. I mean, just look at these quick facts.

driving-facts

The United States in particular has an extremely high prevalence, even higher than other developed countries around the world. I wondered why that is the case. I turned to the national driving age. I looked through a list of ages in which an adolescent or emerging adult can begin to legally drive on the road. I realized that the United States had the lowest age, coming in at only 14 years old. Many, almost all, other countries in the world begin at age 18. I had been to France my senior year of high school and knew that they did not start driving as early as we did, largely because public transportation was easier to come by and a much cheaper choice because gas was quite expensive. I didn’t think much of it though. I figured it didn’t have anything to do with safety. This higher minimum driving age has resulted in rates of accidents substantially lower than in the U.S. however.

Should this be something we turn to? Is this our next move? When is the “right” time to allow emerging adults to drive on their own? Although the age requirement seems to work in lowering accident rates in other countries, I’m not sure how well the implementation of a similar law would go over in our own. Because we are already allowing adolescents and emerging adults to start driving at a much younger age, it could be useless to try and prevent them from doing so now. In my opinion, I think teens would likely go ahead and drive anyway. They might see the risky behavior as exhilarating and not as a threat to their well-being. As we know, they are more likely to take a greater number of risks while driving than drivers of any other age group. By placing restrictions on their ability to take themselves to activities, events, and school we might just be increasing the rate of injury and possibly even death.

Another reason I think we have a lower minimum driving age is due to a lack of adequate public transportation. The United States in particular uses far less modes of public transportation than most other countries around the world. It is not very realistic to require all teens ages 14-17 to now find a different way to get to places. There would be an even greater amount of overcrowding on our buses, trains, and taxis. I will say, that with the introduction of things like Uber, I have noticed more and more individuals taking advantage of ride sharing options. This could be an alternative to driving and so could putting more funding into our public transportation to ensure that they are adequate and abundant enough.

I’m not quite sure what the best option is in our case. There are plans circulating that would require more supervised practice and a lengthier exam to become legally able to drive. This could initially help the rates drop, but once they are unsupervised and have finished memorizing the correct answers to an exam (as so many of us know how to do) they could simply partake in risky behaviors at a later age. With the rate of teens with cars on the rise, I find that it may be inevitable to see a rise in accidents near this age period as well. We can focus on teaching this group and informing them of the dangers and possible consequences, but we can’t make the decisions for them.

 

•Culturally Significant•

When searching through the list of minimum driving ages, I found a wide variance. The United States and Canada rank as the two lowest starting at 14. There are then some countries like Mauritius, El Salvador, Mexico, Denmark, Finland, and Sweden that begin at age 15. A few countries, like France, start at age 16 or 17. Then a large majority declare 18 as the legal minimum age of driving. On the far end of the spectrum, Niger does not allow it until 23! That’s almost a 10 year difference between the lowest and oldest of ages. Even though many countries begin between ages 16-18, they often still do not heavily partake in teen driving as a result of cultural influence. Instead, they use their city transportation for means of travel. You can see on the map below that the entire continent of Europe implements the value of waiting until an older age to begin driving than we do in North America.

driving-age

Dark blue-18, Medium blue-18 (supervised at 17), Light blue-18 (supervised at 16), Orange-17, Goldenrod-17 (supervised at 16), Yellow-16