Educational Editorial: Graduation & emancipation

By Dr. Bill Bosher, NBC12 Educational Specialist

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - High school graduations are completed and with it the Richmond area has produced thousands of newly emancipated 18-year-olds.

In Virginia a young person becomes emancipated at age 18 or 19 if still in school. A family may petition the Juvenile and Domestic Relations court when a son or daughter is 16 and request emancipation but the young person must be separated from the home and show the capacity to provide financial support.

A New Jersey appeals court says that a young person is emancipated "when the child moves beyond the sphere of influence and responsibility exercised by a parent and obtains an independent status on his or her own." Well, when a young person becomes independent, who is actually emancipated, the child or the parent?

Several years ago, I served on the Attorney General's Task Force on binge drinking in higher education. What we found, and subsequently had changed, was that when college students had drug or alcohol problems, parents could not be notified. Even today, the 18-year-old freshman must sign for his parents to get his grades -- when they are paying the bill. Wait a minute, I am emancipated and yet the bank wants reams of information when I try to refinance my home, or my loan is denied.

Well, with this newly emancipated crop of young people, there is a lesson. With freedom comes responsibility, accountability and consequences. Before you celebrate your new status as emancipated, you better check with your parents to see what it means to them.

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