The Court of Protection has considered the difference between a teenager who makes some of the normal 'unwise' decisions associated with growing up and somebody lacking capacity.
A key principle of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 is that an individual shouldn't be deemed to lack capacity because they make unwise choices. This case concerned a young woman "Z" who has an Autistic Spectrum Disorder and a borderline learning difficulty. She frequently made unwise decisions including appearing on a TV talent show and misinterpreting the subsequent ridicule. She also appears to have put herself in high risk situations with men.
However, on the balance of the evidence the judge held that Z has capacity to make these decisions. Whilst agreeing that she is vulnerable he said that the Court should avoid making the paternalistic assessment that someone lacks capacity just to protect them.
As indicated at the outset of this judgment, some risk-taking in adolescents and young adults can be perfectly healthy, such as in sporting activities, or artistic and creative pursuits, travelling, making new friends (including internet dating and friendship groups), or entering competitions. Healthy risk-taking helps young people to learn. Some adolescent risk-taking can be unhealthy and dangerous – casual sexual relationships, unprotected sex, driving too fast on the roads, excessive consumption of alcohol, consumption of non-prescribed drugs, dealing with anger and confrontation. These forms of risk-taking are inherently unwise and unsafe.