Massachusetts is home to some of the world’s finest institutions of higher learning. Whether your son or daughter is attending Harvard University or a local community college, his or her future can be adversely affected by an arrest for any type of criminal charges.

When does a young person become capable of actually acting like an adult? Why do students, even brilliant students, do dumb things they know they shouldn’t do?

Adolescent impulses can continue well into the 20s

While the jury is still out about the point at which the human brain fully matures, neuroscientists conclude that it is highly likely that the brain is still developing until the mid-20s. Some medical experts argue that our brains don’t completely mature until some point in our 30s.

To complicate matters further, the prefrontal cortex region of the brain develops last. That section of our gray matter is responsible for executive functioning, which includes vital life skills like:

•    Avoiding making inappropriate remarks
•    Ability to control one’s impulses
•    Maintaining functional relationships
•    Regulating behaviors according to one’s environment

Given this, some of the inappropriate decisions that college and university students frequently make may be a bit more understandable. However, that doesn’t negate any of the unfortunate repercussions a criminal conviction can bring.

Peer pressure is powerful

While those who are 18 and older are considered to be legal adults capable of making major life decisions, some individuals will continue to make faulty choices they may instantly regret. Situations can arise both on and off campus where students may be strongly pressured by so-called friends to participate in questionable or outright illegal activities like underage drinking, fraternity hazing or even assault.

But parents of university students also exert strong influences on their children that may be able to temper some of their kids’ baser urges. In the worst-case scenarios, parents may be able to mitigate some of the damage that their usually lawful and responsible student might incur from an egregious lapse of judgment. One way to ensure that your young adult’s rights are protected after an arrest is to explore all viable defenses to the charges that they face.