I was talking with a friend yesterday about a theory of behavior I have been working on for over thirty years. The discussion centered on maturity: When is someone mature? It further occurred to me that maturity may be closely linked to a one’s sense of identity. If so, this could be the answer to one of the criminal justice systems most damaging issues: When is a person mature? It further occurred to me that there must be a link between maturity and the increase in sexual identity issues. How so?
Insights by C J Oakes
On this website, I have started to add an expanded explanation of my theory. It is titled Human Behavior and I recommend reading it. One of the things explained in this theory is that all humans have twelve needs which we seek to fill using our own set of values. These needs fit into a spectrum created by four forms and three facets. One of these facets is a need for Identity.
A Sex Identity Crisis Could be the Result of Failures in Criminal Law
One of the biggest issues in America today is Sex Identity. At one time, the basic sex (gender) identifiers were male and female. Yet, this masked a fundamental problem: Some people are born with both organs.
This attempt to label people as one or another sex ultimately bled into sexuality: People are either straight or gay. This too fails to account for the range of human behavior because frankly, some people are Bi-sexual.
Then came the LGB community, which expanded first to LGBT, then LGBTI. Now there is talk of finding a better identifier because even LGBTI fails to take into account the full scope of ways people today identify themselves. There is a clear movement to better identify the full range of individuals in America and the world.
The human need for Identity takes on four forms: Physical, Emotional, Mental, and Spiritual (or Transcendent). When a person approaches physical maturity, they tend to experiment with various physical appearances. This is known to be a means of standing out, to create a unique identity. There have been numerous studies into this. We know physical maturity occurs between the age of eight and 13.
But emotional maturity takes longer. People mature emotionally between 15 and 25. This is part of the reason some have recommended making the legal age of consent 25 instead of 18 or 21.
This is where criminal law enters. In most states, children can be charged as adults under various circumstances. This sends a clear and confusing message to young people: You are a child unless we arbitrarily decide otherwise.
The Psychology of Inconsistent Parenting
Psychology knows that inconsistent parenting practices have serious consequences on children. Children raised by wishy-washy parents tend to grow up to become sociopaths. What happens is that children mistrust parents and fail to mature emotionally when they should. Many do not mature emotionally until late in life.
If we consider that the state takes on a parental role (parens patriae), then the leadership of the nation sets the pace. If the legal system (the criminal justice system) is not consistent, it fails as a parent to the people. The clearly confusing message then manifests itself with the multitudes failing to mature emotionally: Parents do not mature and fail their children leading to a cycle of immaturity.
This would manifest itself by a national identity crisis.
This is what we are seeing, though it has taken the form of a sexual identity crisis.
Now, this is not to say that people do not have a right to identify as they see fit. They do.
What I am saying is that the criminal justice and legal systems as they are structured currently are failing to allow people to grow into healthy, emotionally mature adults. The messages sent are confusing and conflicting, they cause people to become stunted emotionally. Rather than learning who they are at a young age, people in mid-life are just discovering their identity.
For whatever reason, this discovery tends to involve sexuality. Thus, we are facing a national sexual identity crisis because of the failure of political leaders to provide legal consistency.
Where we go from here is anyone’s guess, but one thing is certain: We must decide as a nation how best to identify when a person is mature and stop sending mixed messages to both parents and children. Otherwise, the crisis over identity will grow.