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What Can You Do When You Turn 17? 15 Legal and Important Things

WhatToGetMy Instructional Article

  • When you turn 17, not much of significance happens because you are still a minor. The only major significant fact is that you are just one step away from adulthood where you will be given some more leeway than you get at 17.
  • Despite this, there are still some important things that you can do when you turn 17 that will help prepare you for adulthood at 18 and generally improve the quality of your life. Read on to find out what these are.

Turning 17 can be a little underwhelming because you still feel very much like you’re still considered a child by your parents and society. And so you may feel like there aren’t things that you can do when you turn 17. This article will give you a helpful list of things you can do when you turn 17.

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What Changes When You Turn 17?

There is only one major change that is significant in turning 17. And that is that you’re a year away from being a full adult under U.S law, although with some limitations. Our article on 25 Things To Do When You Turn 18 explains all that happens when you turn 18 and what your legal rights are, as well as the fun things you can do, so be sure to check it out.

Apart from this one major point, nothing changes so much when you turn 17. You are still a minor in the sight of the law, and still very much under the control of your parents. This doesn’t mean however that there aren’t fun and important things that you can do when you turn 17, nor does it mean that you should suddenly become irresponsible.

Remember that if you want to be taken seriously and treated as an adult sooner rather than later, now is a good time to start acting like it so that no one even remembers anymore that you are 17.

What Rights Do You Have At 17 and What Can You Legally Do At 17? Things You Can Legally Do At 17 In The U.S and Legal Rights At 17.

The reality is that as a 17-year-old, you are still legally a minor, and there isn’t much you have in terms of rights and privileges. Parental consent remains vital to making key and important decisions about your life. You will need to wait until you hit the famous 18.

There are however very few rights you will have in some States. According to Bustle, you have at least 5 legal rights in most States, though not all, and there are very few things you can legally do at 17, and these are:

1. The right to be treated for an std without the knowledge of your parents.

So you don’t need to be scared if you need to go to the hospital to be treated for an STD, but be sure that this right applies in your State.

And even if it doesn’t, don’t let it deter you from getting the needed treatment(s) because STDs when left unattended can affect your fertility and sterility as an adult and you certainly do not want that.

2. The right to register as an organ donor.

This is pretty cool, especially if you are inclined to make an organ donation to a loved one. Check your local hospital(s) for what you need to satisfy to donate.

3. It turns out you can also get your own international passport without your parents being present.

How exciting. You can begin to prepare for your travel as you turn 18. If you choose to get a passport without your parents, be prepared to part with more than $100 which is what it will cost you to pay for your passport yourself without the help of your parents.

4. You can also donate blood without your parents’ consent.

This is also another cool thing the law permits you to do. It is however not advisable to take a very critical decision such as donating blood, without at least letting your parents know.

5. You can also receive confidential counseling for a drug or alcohol-related problem and not worry too much about your parents’ involvement.

This is also very encouraging. You don’t have to suffer in silence or feel constrained to seek help if you need it. But you must remember that all ethical rules that apply to counseling will still apply. And one such rule is that if your counselor sees that you will be a danger to yourself or will hurt yourself or others, they have a legal duty to protect you from yourself by taking appropriate steps in the right direction.

These facts should not deter you from seeking counseling and help where you need it because counseling goes a long way with helping maintain good mental health.

6. You can also drive at 17.

How exciting right? At least you can take mum and dad’s car and make a quick dash to the mall or your best friend’s house, but be careful not to damage their car or they’ll get very upset. Also, if you cannot drive, don’t put yourself and other motorists and pedestrians at risk by getting behind a wheel.

7. You can also get a motorbike license in some states.

How nice! Get that motorbike license if your State allows for it.

8. And in some states, you can have consensual sex.

Sounds exciting, doesn’t it. But remember to take the necessary precautions by practicing safe and protected sex if your State is one of such States that allows for consensual sex at 17. STDs are real and affect any sexually active person including a 17 year old. Not to mention the fact that you can also fall pregnant at 17.

Remember that these rights are State specific. We are not lawyers and cannot give you the finer details of how these laws work or what they entail, and it will be important and best to seek expert legal advice before acting on any of these points. You can also check out the linked Bustle article for a more detailed explanation of each right.

What Can You Do When You’re 17? List Of Important Things You Can Do When You Turn 17.

With 18 just a year away, being 17 is a good time to start preparing for your grand entrance into adulthood. Even though you don’t have many rights and privileges at 17, there are still some important things that you can do when you turn 17 to help you prepare for turning 18, and generally, give you a great and exciting life at 17. These 7 important things are:

9. Take care of your mental health.

A rather unsettling survey by SAMHSA in 2017 found that in the age group of 12 – 17 year olds, those who were 17 had the highest incidence of depression.

Percentage of U.S. youth aged 12 to 17 years with a major depressive episode in the past year as of 2017, by age. Source: SAMHSA

Percentage of U.S. youth aged 12 to 17 years with a major depressive episode in the past year as of 2017, by age. Source SAMHSA

This is not an encouraging stat and would worry even your parents. Your mental health should be one priority you should have at the top of your list as you turn 17. Not taking care of your mental health can lead to mental illnesses like depression and panic and anxiety attacks. These will in turn affect and lower your quality of life and you may find yourself entering 18 unhappy.

You can do the following to protect your mental health as you turn 17:

Toxic people who are filled with negativity can easily drain your energy without your realizing it. Be intentional about the people around you and the things you allow into your subconscious.

Our friends always influence us whether we want to believe it or not. The wrong friend(s) can send you spiraling down the wrong path.

  • Speak and affirm positive things to yourself every day even if no one else does.

This may sound odd but has a very powerful effect. If you always affirm to yourself every morning that you are smart, confident, and beautiful, those words get into your subconscious and start to shape the way you feel and view yourself without your realizing it.

It builds your confidence and makes it unshakable, even if some of your peers will want to pull it down.

Remember, no one has the power over your mind unless you let them. Speaking positive things to yourself is one way of taking that power back and holding on to it tenaciously. Even when you don’t believe it, keep speaking it until you start believing it.

  • Ask for help when you need it.

This is especially important if something negative happened to affect you emotionally. Things like breaking up with a boyfriend, finding out that your best friend stabbed you in the back, or any other thing that deeply hurts you. Don’t cover up the hurt or it would build up and take a toll on your mental well-being.

10. Stay active to keep obesity at bay.

Obesity among 17-year-olds is a source of concern in the U.S. according to a 2017 survey by The Trust For America’s Health.

Top 10 U.S. states by lowest obesity rate among children aged 10-17 years in 2016-2017. Source: Trust For America’s Health

Top 10 U.S. states by lowest obesity rate among children aged 10-17 years in 2016-2017. Source Trust For America's Health

Top 10 U.S. States by obesity rate among children aged 10-17 years in 2016-2017. Source: Trust For America’s Health

Top 10 U.S. States by obesity rate among children aged 10-17 years in 2016-2017. Source Trust For America's Health

The last thing you want is to enter 18 looking bigger than usual. If you are overweight at the moment, now is a good time to start working on shedding some of those pounds so that you look sexy and feel great on turning 18.

Yes we should not be too superficial with our outward appearance, but working on staying fit and not being overweight and/or obese has nothing to do with being superficial, but a lot to do with your overall health and length and quality of life.

There are two main ways of keeping obesity at bay – eating right, and staying active by mild, moderate, or intense physical activity. To know what kind of foods you should be eating to eat right and stay healthy, check out our article on What Foods Should We Eat To Maintain A Healthy Lifestyle. And to get motivation on getting started on physical fitness check out our article on How To Start Running If You Are Out Of Shape.

11. Participate in outdoor and recreational activities.

Outdoor and recreational activities also help with keeping fit and staying in shape. In a 2017 survey, 23% of 13 – 17 year olds had said that their reason for not participating in outdoor and recreational activities was because they found outdoor recreational equipment expensive.

Reasons why 13 to 17 year olds did not participate in outdoor activities in the United States in 2017. Source: Statista

Reasons why 13 to 17 year olds did not participate in outdoor activities in the United States in 2017. Source Statista

This may have been the case then, but certainly today, there are a good number of outdoor recreational activities that do not require expensive equipment, so this reason should not deter you. From the same survey of outdoor recreational activities engaged in by 13 – 17 year olds reproduced in the next chart below, you can find a good number of outdoor recreational activities that you can engage in.

Most popular outdoor activities among 6 to 17 year olds in the United States from 2010 to 2017, by participation rate. Source: Statista

Most popular outdoor activities among 6 to 17 year olds in the United States from 2010 to 2017, by participation rate. Source Statista

From this list, you can go hiking with some of your friends or even alone. You can also go camping or backpacking, and you can take your bike and hit the road. You can see that you have a good list of outdoor recreational activities to keep you busy while you’re 17. These activities are also loads of fun and a good way to stay engaged and active.

12. Try not to fall pregnant.

A 2018 survey by the Center for Disease Control found that the birth rate for teenagers between 15 – 19 in America was as high as 40% in 2008 and reduced to 17.4% in 2018, and this is the case notwithstanding the criminalization of sexual relations before 18 in most States. There could be several factors responsible for this statistic which does not come out from the report, and we are in no position to speculate what they may be, but to show you that falling pregnant at the age of 17 is a reality that you should be aware of.

Birth rate among U.S. teenagers aged 15-19 years from 1991 to 2018 (per 1,000 women). Source: CDC

Birth rate among U.S. teenagers aged 15-19 years from 1991 to 2018 (per 1,000 women). Source CDC

The freedom to have sex is great until you fall pregnant. Pregnancy is not a death sentence, but having a child comes with a ton of responsibility. Imagine that your parents have a lot of responsibility on their shoulders taking care of you, and ask yourself if you are ready for that kind of responsibility. And you might say that you will get an abortion if that happens, but abortion for a 17-year-old is not permissible in some States without parental consent.

The best way to avoid an unwanted pregnancy should you choose to be sexually active, is to engage in protected sex at all times, or at least use contraceptives. Find out if you can purchase contraceptives in your State without parental consent.

13. Stay away from drugs.

Drugs will give you a temporary high, but what it won’t tell you is that it will get you hooked. And once you get hooked, it is difficult to get off. Drugs are the quickest way to truncate your bright future and aren’t worth it.

14. Help out at home more.

Your parents will be very appreciative of this. It will also tell them that you are now becoming more mature and ready to become an adult. They will start seeing and treating you more like an adult if you can show more responsibility and help them at home. Also, see helping at home as preparing yourself for when you eventually move out of home and live on your own.

You can help out by mowing the lawn, ensuring that there are never dirty dishes in the sink, cleaning out the fridge, taking out the bin, and keeping your room clean. This is not an exhaustive list and if there are more things you can do to help, by all means, add them to the list.

15. Volunteer.

Volunteering is a good altruistic act to do. It shows selflessness and maturity. It is another way to show that you are getting more mature, taking on responsibilities, and ready to be treated like an adult.

In your free time, rather than spending all of it on social media or playing video games, consider giving at least an hour or two each week volunteering somewhere. There are tons of places that need volunteers, and all you need to do is look around you and ask, and you will find one.

Frequently Asked Questions.

  • Can you leave your house at 17?

This will depend on your State and what its laws say. In some States, you can leave your parents’ home at 17, but you need to find out from a lawyer in your State if this applies to your State.

  • Can I get an apartment at 17?

This is also dependent on your State’s laws. Some States permit it. Ask a lawyer in your State if this is permissible.

Conclusion.

While you may not have many rights and privileges as a 17-year-old, there are important things and decisions you can take at 17 that will help prepare you for the big 18 and a life of adulthood. We have set out those important things in this article and implore you to adopt them as part of your lifestyle as you turn 17, and you will be the better for it and have a blast with adulthood at 18 and beyond.

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