This might hurt a little.

Younger Readers, don't misunderstand the following. We like teenagers.  We treat many of them, we have family who teach them,  we have our own. Dr. Hendry actually has seven years of personal experience as a teenager.

So it is not intended to be insulting or demeaning when we tell you that, as a teenager, your brain does not yet have an adult's ability to assess risks.

This is not adult condescension; it is an established scientific reality. While it's perfectly normal to feel fully mature, independent and rational as a teenager, current research suggests that brain and cognitive development isn't fully complete until the mid-twenties.

The parts of the brain still under development at this time include those responsible for decision-making and risk-taking.  This is the fundamental, biological reason that teenagers are more prone than adults to all sorts of high-risk behavior: unprotected sex, alcohol and drug abuse, smoking, reckless driving.  Adults do these things, too, but teenagers as a group are significantly poorer at judging safety and risks.

So please don't be offended when we tell you that the choices you make now may not seem as smart when you look back on them as an adult, even though you feel wise and sensible now.  (If you don't believe us, ask your parents about all the dumb things they did as teenagers..)

And if you're tempted to fire off an irate email, excoriating us for pointing out hazards of oral piercing, and insisting that you and your friends know it's perfectly safe  - don't bother. Save that letter, and read it again when you're 25.

 You can read more about this below (among many other places) :

New Scientist  

Science News for Kids

Washington Post

USA Today


ABC News

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