Pinocchio in Littleton

In this Article, Professor Kell proposes a substantial change in policy direction in the wake of school shootings and other tragedies involving young people’s abilities to make mature decisions. First, the Article questions the current state of the law which exclusively deems young people to be mature based on “birthdays and bad acts, ” rather than on any concept of demonstrated or earned levels of responsibility. Next, an alternative legal framework is envisioned recognizing young people as increasingly competent citizens who must develop psychosocial maturity, including learning how to judge and utilize advice from others such as parents and peers, weigh risks, and forgo short-term gain for longer-term satisfaction. This alternative framework is then applied to identify initial steps toward legal reform in the contexts of education, employment, community, and government. In conclusion, the Article calls for the development of new stories, framed by law, to foster opportunities for young people to mature and exercise their decision-making abilities.