Minimum Legal Drinking Age

Published: 2021-07-17 12:00:06
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The Minimum Legal Drinking Age Underage drinking has been become a large issue in the recent decades, becoming a rising issues mainly among young college students. This debate of either lowering the drinking age or keeping it as it is has caught great attention, especially with academic superiors. In 2008, 100 college presidents called for a debate about bringing down the drinking age. In Shari Roan’s essay, “Tempest in a Bottle,” agreed that “[their] experience as college and university presidents convinces us that twenty-one is not working.
A culture of dangerous, clandestine ‘binge-drinking’–often conducted off-campus–has developed. ” This occurrence of binge-drinking in clandestine settings is a result of college students not being able to legally purchase their own alcohol. These clandestine areas include places like fraternity, house parties or even out in street at night, all in which no adult supervision is involved. Young adults who are curious about drinking are shunned from places where safe and responsible drinking is promoted and so, instead, they decide to escape and drink in secret where they’ll have no “older adults who might model more appropriate behavior.
This will end up resulting in unsafe and irresponsible consumption of alcohol like binge-drinking. The aim is to eliminate irresponsible drinking, not promote it and it seems by having the drinking age so high is what is causing this unsafe drinking behavior among young adults. In Europe, where the drinking age is lower there than here in the states, the consumption of alcohol is higher there, but alcohol abuse rates are higher here.
Actions could and should be taken to promote safe and responsible drinking behavior among young adults, regardless if the drinking age is lowered or not. Even though we don’t want them out and about drinking, we shouldn’t deny the fact that they do and so just like Elizabeth M. Whelan mentioned in her essay, “The Perils of Prohibition,” they should be taught how to drink responsibly just exactly like how they are taught about safe sex. Parents hope their children aren’t engaging in sex at such a young age, but still take the precaution that they do and teach them safe sex.
Just like parents sit down and have “the talk” with their kids, they can engage their kids the same way about underage drinking and how to do it responsibly. This all might sound convincing to some to be more lenient about underage drinking or even lowering the drinking age, but the statistics of alcohol related deaths and injuries amongst the underage don’t lie. Going back to Roan’s essay, “approximately 1,700 alcohol-related deaths…occur among college students each year in the United States. ” The number is huge and the fact that it happens averagely every year is unacceptable.
There are too many unfortunate events that occur among college students due to underage drinking like the story of “the 18-year-old [who] drank until he passed out, was dumped onto a couch and was found dead the next morning” that was mentioned in Roan’s essay. Or even the story in Whelan’s essay of the intoxicated student who placed himself into a chimney and was then found dead three days later by his fraternity brothers who were attempting to light a fire. The lack of enforcement of the drinking age could be left at fault for these tragedies or even “our failure to teach young people how to use alcohol prudently” as Whelan stated.
The ultimatum is that young adults are dying because of their careless use of alcohol. It’s not just the fact that they do it, but it’s also the way they’re doing it. Binge drinking is a huge problem with young adults, in a survey mentioned in Roan’s essay, “over a third of college students admitted they had binged on alcohol at least once in the previous two weeks. ” College students come to college with much more freedom then they ever had before and sooner or later are introduced to drinking.
Most who start in college, see others have been drinking before college and develop the mentality of drinking for lost time to catch up with them. Unfortunately, in most cases leads to binge drinking. Binge drinking is very unhealthy and dangerous compared to moderate drinking, obviously. Careless drinking like this can lead to memory damage and even damage to learning capabilities. Though some may argue that lowering the drinking age will put more responsibility in young adults’ hands forcing them to act more mature and sophisticated about the idea, there’s proof that lowering the drinking age could make matters worse. During the 1970’s when the minimum age for certain activities were being lowered such as voting, the drinking age was also lowered among more than half the states across the United States. After half a decade and, for some, ten years of experimenting, which is more than plenty of time, “16 states increased their minimum legal drinking age between September 1976 and January 1983” according to Traci L. Toomey’s , Carolyn Rosenfeld’s, and Alexander Wagenaar’s essay, “The Minimum Legal Drinking Age: Facts and Fallacies.
Mentioned in Roan’s essay, “[since] then, traffic fatalities among drivers ages 18 to 20 have fallen by an estimated 13%, according to the national Highway Traffic Safety Administration. ” Studies reported from the National Institute on Drug Abuse compared the years before 1984 and the current era being 2001 then found that “college students who reported drinking in the last month fell from 82% in 1980 to 67% in 2000. ” Also in Roan’s essay was the statistic that “[in] 2007, the University of Michigan’s annual Monitoring the Future survey found that annual alcohol use by high school seniors has dropped from 77% in 1991 to 66% [in 2006].
It’s not merely just the decline of irresponsible drinking, but also the health risks of alcohol and the addiction towards it. Like mentioned before, alcohol can cause “damage to memory and learning capabilities. ” Also, “teens who began drinking before age 14 had a lifetime risk of alcohol dependence of 47% compared with 9% for those who began drinking at 21. ” “’Not all the evidence is on one side of the question,’ says John M. McCardell Jr. , former president of Middlebury College in Vermont and founder of Choose Responsibility,” quoted in Roan’s essay. “We’re not ignoring the science. There is science on both sides of the question.
Yes, there might be a decrease in traffic fatalities among 18 to 20 year olds since the 1970’s, but that could be explained in a number of reasons. “For example, the reduction in traffic fatalities may be credited to other safety measures, such as the use of restraints, better automobile design, improved hospital trauma care and stricter traffic laws, in addition to the lower drinking age, some studies suggest,” stated by McCardell in Roan’s essay. Solely just presenting possibilities, as for the decrease number of high school students who consume alcohol, the amount of binge drinking among college students has increased.
From 1993 to 2001, rates show “binge drinking [has] increased the most (56%) among underage drinkers. ” This statistic questions the one previously mentioned before in Roan’s essay of the college students who reported drinking in the past month fell from 82% in 1980 to 67% in 2000. Going back the alcohol dependence statistics in Roan’s essay about how teens who start drinking before 14 have a higher risk of alcohol dependence then those who began drinking at 21, this is merely a correlation survey.
Correlation is not a “cause and effect” concept, there’re many other explanations and factors that could be considered to why alcohol dependence lowers as the age rises. For example, a correlation of a selected group shows that the bigger the hand one has, the smaller the feet they will have. That’s simply not true to the general population, because you have big hands doesn’t mean you will end up with smaller feet. Also previously mentioned, it isn’t the fact the underage drinking is going on, it’s the way underage drinkers are drinking. “What would harm a developing brain is repeated hangovers and blackouts and head trauma from falling.
But if someone were drinking moderately from age 18, I haven’t seen any data to show that would have harmful effects in the long run,” says Brenda Chabon, associate professor of clinical psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Montefiore Medical Center in New York. If a young adult at the age of 18 “can drive cars, fly planes, marry, vote, pay taxes, take out loans, [smoke], and risk their lives as members of the U. S. armed forces,” it would make sense to be able to let them enjoy a beer at a bar top. Like Whelan said, “[today’s] teens are far more sophisticated than we were.
They’re treated less like children and have more responsibilities then we did. This makes the 21 restriction seem anachronistic. ” Just like driving and voting, those are responsibilities young adults take and hold. Giving young adults the privilege to drink can possibly result in a similar outcome. Going back to our European peers, the rate of alcohol related diseases are about the same here in the states compared to that in Europe. That comes to show how much the legal drinking age might not matter. That being said, back to McCardell, “[between] 13 and 18 [years of age], the effect is dramatic.
But between 18 and 21 it’s visible but insignificant. What we ought to look at is not keeping 18-year-olds from drinking, it’s keeping 13-year-olds from drinking. ” There’s hardly any evidence that moderate drinking among young adults causes any significant health damage. Their bodies are less developed then that of a young adult, matter of fact, their bodies are still developing. Our attention of underage drinking could maybe even be shifted to our younger teens instead of today’s underage young adults. Lowering the drinking age is not the only solution to solving these problem, but nor do the general public agree on keeping it at 21.
There’s different solutions that could be worked out, introduced, and hopefully even enforced in the near future to create a safer environment for drinking. Ultimately, there’s a huge problem when it comes to alcohol abuse and alcohol-related deaths among the underage adults. There’s no evidence that lowering the drinking age will solve these problems, but nor is there evidence that keeping the drinking age the way it is will make things any better. Just like Toomey, an associate professor in the school of public health, said in Roan’s essay, “[proposals] to curb youth drinking should explore all solutions, not just lowering the drinking age.
There’s other possible solutions like one proposed by the Choose Responsibility group founded by John M. McCardell, maybe “18 year-olds should be able to consume alcohol with parents and take a course that, upon completion, grants a license to purchase, posses and consume alcohol. ” Sort of the same concept and responsibility we privilege 15 and a half year-olds when it comes to driving. Solely just an idea at the moment, but proposed solutions like these could possibly be tested and maybe even added to the minimum legal drinking age laws if agreed upon.

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