Tens of thousands of 16 and 17-year-olds voted in the Scottish referendum.

Some 120,000 were entitled to vote and they responded to the democratic call with the same vigour that swept the country.

These young, first-time voters used their democratic right responsibly and conducted themselves in debates with decorum, dignity, insight and inspiration for the future. The future is very much in good hands going on the contributions made to debates, discussion forums and interviews.

Now that the dust has settled, we are left with a major dilemma for these young adults.

On one hand, they have the right to vote in the Scottish referendum but not necessarily in other elections. At the same time, they are afforded other rights and responsibilities but not others. The minimum age for joining the Armed Forces is 16 (although those under 18 need parental permission) and so these young voters can also defend the nation (although they must be 18 before they can be deployed to the front line) but cannot partake in a number of other activities.

They could consume alcohol in a licensed premises when ordering with a meal (and they can buy liqueur confectionary), but they would not be able to buy, consume or possess alcohol in public. However, they can engage in sexual activity with the age of consent being 16.

Meanwhile, young adults would be unable to drive until the age of 17 and cannot buy tobacco in a public place until they are 18. There are also films, computer games and music that they would be unable to access until 18. It is a counter intuitive scenario whereby the dangers of Armed Forces' work are accepted but drinking and smoking have restrictions placed against them.

Furthermore, new legislation, admittedly for their protection, has assigned each young person up to the age of 18 with a named person.

In Scotland, positive transformational changes have taken place to protect children through the Getting It Right For Every Child agenda and to improve outcomes for young people through various policies including educational reform.

A major education reform is still taking place in Curriculum For Excellence. Successful transitions to adulthood form a major part of the progression frameworks included within this system. The four main pillars of that system have, however, become lost through time.

Early promotion of Successful Learners, Effective Contributors, Responsible Citizens and Confident Individuals does not have the same high profile as it did when the system was first discussed and launched. The third pillar, Responsible Citizenship, like the others, remains an ideal but not one that is tracked or monitored; nor is progress reported against by schools, authorities or agencies involved in education delivery and improvement.

Might this have been an opportunity missed? For, when does a young person become a responsible citizen? Is it at 16? If so, what rights and responsibilities should be afforded at this time? Should responsible citizenship be tested (in the broadest sense of the word)? Should progress in developing responsible citizens form a more integral part of our systems and processes before affording rights and responsibilities? What would be the impact of harmonising the age for a range of rights to the same age? Or, indeed, should these be distributed on a case by case basis according to responsibilities?

There are lots of questions for us to consider in the coming months. Furthermore, all of these questions in effect emanated from one question. That question has been answered.

Going on the evidence of participation, lots of people will be able to provide some answers to the outstanding questions. That engagement in itself shows huge progress in responsible citizenship. Young people's role in it should be at the forefront of minds as we go forward.