Infantilization of Teenagers in Epstein’s Article

Article Overview

The article that will be analyzed in the paper at hand is devoted to the problem of the infantilization of teenagers as a result of the artificial prolongation of school studies. The author claims that over the past century, the number of restrictions for school students has become so large that it makes young people isolated from adult life.

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Since there is a persisting negative attitude to adolescents’ competence and responsibility, they are deprived of any chance to engage in adult activities, even though they turn out to be superior to the majority of grown-ups in terms of intelligence, memory, and perception. Anthropological studies also prove that in more than 100 countries the idea of immaturity is completely absent and mostly appears with the adoption of Western schooling practices (Epstein, 2007).

The author concludes that “the social-emotional turmoil experienced by many young people in the United States is entirely a creation of modern culture” (Epstein, 2007, para.18). Restrictions on youth labor are no longer applicable to contemporary society as they were during the times of the Industrial Revolution. Thus, to solve this problem, it is suggested to establish competency-based schooling to accelerate the process of becoming an adult.


Although I mostly agree with the arguments cited by the author of the article, I realize that more profound research is needed to make evidence-based conclusions. It may seem to be quite unreasonable to interrupt education; especially if the child’s academic performance is above average. However, real circumstances suggest that high school in the United States is more about gender roles than about learning.

Furthermore, gender education offered by schools does not seem to be adequate, either. Adolescents are taught how terrible it might be to be gay, how important it is for girls to increase their popularity with boys, or how crucial it is for the latter to be truly masculine. In fact, despite the initial academic mission of the high school, it is widely promoted that excelling in academic achievements means failing your social and gender functions. Teens are taught that their present and future life is a collection of gender, artistic, and professional clichés, in which their personality becomes practically insignificant or pushed to the periphery together with their preferences, wants, or needs.

As a result, the number of cases of teen depression, frustration, and suicide is on the rise, according to the National Institute of Mental Health and the American Psychological Association. The compulsory higher education has led to an 8-percent increase in attempted suicide cases annually and an 11-percent increase in cases of a depressive disorder by the age of 18. According to the latest statistics, more than 1,700 adolescents die of successful suicide attempts every year, which implies that the number has tripled during the last 30 years (McLoughlin, Gould, & Malone, 2015).

One of the major reasons is connected not with the complexity of the high school curriculum but with negative social interactions with both other teens and adults. With some school students, this refers to bullying, which is currently prevalent practically in all high schools across the country, no matter whether they are public or private. Approximately 20-30% of high school children report being bullied on a regular basis, which typically causes suicide thoughts (McLoughlin et al., 2015). Moreover, such kids are poorer educated, more socially isolated, and psychologically unstable.

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Although we are used to the American system of education, it currently brings about such a great number of psychological problems for school students, that it’s high time we thought that it does not have to be this way. The times of the American Revolution, when child labor had to be restricted to save children’s lives, has passed. Now, it is evident that the country needs reforms that would allow children to grow up as soon as they are ready to do this. However, the major question that arises is where the boundary between the adequate transition to adulthood and forced deprivation of childhood lies.


Epstein, R. (2007). Let’s abolish high school. Education Week. Web.

McLoughlin, A. B., Gould, M. S., & Malone, K. M. (2015). Global trends in teenage suicide: 2003–2014. QJM: An International Journal of Medicine, 108(10), 765-780.

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