I think it’s safe to say that over 50% of readers today have consumed alcohol before we were of age. The reasons we drank are probably all different. Maybe we wanted to have a beer to relax on a hot summer day, or to enjoy a night out with our friends, and maybe even cause we were feeling a little down or depressed. If you were to ask people who were of legal age, I bet you would get many of the same responses. Ever since the government passed a law in 1984 to change the drinking age to 21, a debate has been sparked between many people because young people are considered adults at the age of 18. Today I will inform you about the facts on drinking, and why the drinking age should be lowered back to the age of 18. I will be looking in depth at the responsibilities that we inherit when we turn 18, dangers of drinking regardless of age, drinking on college campuses, drinking and driving and its relation to age, and the solutions that can be used to solve this ongoing problem.
First I will talk about the responsibilities we inherit when we turn 18. The problem with the law today is that people are considered adults when they are 18. The government claims we are responsible enough to vote for our president’s, own our own company, live on our own, enlist in the military and serve our country with a high-powered firearm, have consensual sex, pay taxes, get married, adopt a child, and buy cigarettes. This list can go on and on, but in the end all of the things listed require us to make our own responsible decisions. The one that sticks out the most to me is the ability to adopt a child. Taking care of a child overshadows the responsibility of drinking by a lot. I will continue talking about responsibility but will move on to the drinking aspect.
Drinking can be a fun time as long as it is consumed responsibly. The key word here is responsibly. Alcohol is a very dangerous substance that alters people’s moods and reactions. This is true for everyone, not just minors. Many people like to stereo type underage drinkers because they believe they are not mature enough to consume alcohol in a responsible manner. This is an unfair stereotype. I have been to a fair amount of parties, and have seen a fair amount of people consuming alcohol stupidly. They have been underage, as well as of age. From my observations, the way people consume alcohol is based solely upon their personality, not their age. Continuing with age, the U.S. should model its laws after other foreign counties. According to M.R. Franks of Southern University, in many European countries it’s not uncommon to see a child as young as 12, having a glass of wine or beer with a meal. This is typically where it stops. They usually stop at one glass and not binge drink. Here in the U.S. it’s not uncommon to have 4 or more glasses or drinks when we do go out. This is typically true for all ages of drinkers. Also, in France, Germany, Italy and Spain, a young adult of 16 may buy wine or beer unaccompanied by a parent, while the drinking age for distilled beverages in Europe is 18. This makes a lot of sense. They ease their children into drinking and teach them responsible drinking habits under the right supervision. Once their children are considered adults, they have already developed good drinking habits (if they have any) and understand how to consume responsibly.
Next I will talk drinking on college campuses. Nearly ever campus in the U.S. has to deal with underage drinking. There are many administrators that are concerned, but believe lowering the drinking age could help to solve this problem. Fred Blevens, a Dean at Oklahoma University, says, “The expectations we have for 18-year-olds are the same that we have for 21-year-olds.”
This just further explains why the drinking age should be lowered. Colleges don’t blame the drinking problems on the 18 year olds, nor the 21 year olds solely, so why should 18 year olds be treated any different? If anything it’s making it worse. With the drinking age the way it is, it’s forcing minors (that will drink anyway) into underground drinking activities that can be very hard to monitor. With lowering the drinking age, 18 to 20 year olds would be able to attend public places and consume and be monitored closely. This wouldn’t prevent all alcohol related deaths, but would severely cut down on them. A lot of underage drinkers load up on alcohol before they go out to try to keep the buzz as long as possible. By having monitored places to drink these students wouldn’t have to try to load up before they go out.
The last problem that many people incorporate with lowering the drinking age to 18, is drinking and driving. A lot of people believe that 18-20 year olds are less responsible, thus more likely to drink and drive. I have a pie chart here from Henry Claibourne, of “Changing the Court” that will probably shock a lot of you. As the chart shows, ages 16-18 and 19-20 have the lowest percentage of DWI’s. and only make up for 19% of the DWI’s. totals. While people a little older are racking up the totals.
Now that I have looked at the responsibilities that we inherit when we turn 18, dangers of drinking regardless of age, drinking on college campuses, drinking and driving and its relation to age, I am going to go over the easiest way to solve this on going problem.
The simple solution to all of these problems is to lower the drinking age. Maybe the government would rather keep the drinking age where it is at, and raise the age for the other things I listed before to 21. But that would be mean they wouldn’t get our tax money, or be able to send us off to war, so they wouldn’t be up for that. So the only logical solution is to lower the drinking age. It all starts with us. Whether you drink or not, or are of age or not, we need to quit letting the government insult our maturity level when it comes to drinking. There are plenty of ways to do this, many colleges have petitions that can be signed, or simply contact your local representative to get something started. Either way something needs to be done and it starts with us.