“Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy,” was once said by a very smart man named Benjamin Franklin. He lived in a time when there was no minimum drinking age. Before the 1900’s there wasn’t any kind of drinking laws anywhere in the United States. The drinking age was regulated by society which was family, church, and communities. Yes, some kids probably drank too much back then, but I’ve learned that the current laws aren’t doing much to stop it now either.
At least back then young people were learning for the most part in controlled environments with their family or at church and not at parties where they learn to binge drink. This is a serious problem right now. Many young people are dying from drinking too much or getting in car accidents because they don’t know how to be responsible. If they learn at a younger age how to drink responsibly and are educated more about the dangers of alcohol it could potentially save a lot of lives.
The article I chose to analyze talks about how over 130 college chancellors and presidents are promoting the idea of lowering the drinking age to 18. That is why after the research I have done; I believe the drinking age should be lowered. The article I chose is from the Los Angeles Times. The title of the article is, “Is lowering the drinking age a good idea? ”. The author, Jessica Ogilvie, supports lowering the drinking age to 18, but she provides good arguments for both sides. First, Ogilvie talks about the reasons why lowering the drinking age would be good.
She states that “Right now we basically have alcohol prohibition for adults ages 18 to 20, and we are getting some of the same results we got through national prohibition in the early 20th century. ” Less young adults are drinking, but when they do drink they are drinking more, and excessive drinking it what is the big concern. When drinking is prohibited, it pushes it into environments that are uncontrolled, like frat houses. Ogilvie says places like that promote drinking games and rapid, excessive consumption of alcohol, which can lead to getting alcohol poisoning that could potentially be fatal.
Some people who protest lowering the drinking age use research that makes it look as though the higher drinking age has reduced alcohol-related fatalities when in fact it just shifted those fatalities to an older age group of 21, 22, and 23 year-olds. Others also argue that it should stay at 21 because the brain isn’t finished maturing until about age 25, but if we do that we should also have to raise the enlisting age and the voting age. Ogilvie points out that there needs to be consistency. On the other side of the argument Ogilvie gives reasons why the drinking age should stay 21.
She shows the opinion of James C. Fell who is a program director at the Alcohol, Policy and Safety Research Center of the Pacific Institute for Research & Evaluation in Calverton, Md. He says that binge drinking among high schoolers has been going steadily down since the age to drink was raised to 21. There hasn’t been as much progress in colleges, but lowering the drinking age is not the answer says Fell. He goes on to talk about how back in the 70’s, some states lowered the age to 18 and there was an increase in alcohol consumption in the younger age groups.
When the drinking age went back to 21, there was lower consumption, and those rates have stayed low. He also talks about the myth that because Europe has a lower drinking age, and because in the culture there they bring up youth to drink alcohol, that there isn’t as much of a problem. Fell says surveys show most countries in Europe have a higher rate of binge drinking in 15- and 16-year-olds in comparison to the United States. To learn more about the subject I did more research and came across some interesting information that helped me to decide which side I was on, on the topic of the minimum drinking age.
The first thing that I found very shocking was that one of the only reasons states agree to have their drinking age be 21 is because of the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984 which urged states to raise their age for possessing alcohol and purchasing alcohol to 21 or they would potentially be penalized with losing millions in federal highway funding. (“Drinking Age ProCon”) Next, I will discuss why the drinking age and the issues surrounding it should be important to the average American. There are many reasons as to why people should care about the increasing problem of drinking in our youth.
Our youth has this idea in their head that you have to drink to get drunk. They need to be educated better about the dangers and risks of excessive drinking. Teenagers need to see that alcohol needs to be consumed in moderation. Another big reason the minimum drinking age should be a concern to American’s is because like Ogilvie said, we need to be consistent. At eighteen you are legally an adult and are allowed to do pretty much everything except consume alcohol. You can chew and smoke, which are way were for you and kill more people than alcohol. Also, you can get married, adopt children, vote, etc.
If you can make huge decisions like that, you should be able to make the decision to consume alcohol. There are already eight exceptions to the minimum drinking age. The main ones are that in 29 states you can drink with parental consent on private property and in some states you can drink on alcohol-selling premises with a parent’s permission. The biggest exception to me is that you can drink WITHOUT, yes without, parental consent as long as you are on private property. (“Drinking Age ProCon”) Plus I feel like lowering the drinking age could have the potential to stop many alcohol-related car accidents in 18-, 19-, and 20-year olds.
Teenagers account for almost 20% of drunk driving accidents. (Synder) I believe that a lot of those accidents would be prevented if they were allowed to legally drink. This is because many teens refuse to tell people they have been drinking and cannot drive for fear of getting in trouble. Instead they drive under the influence and many get in accidents. This age group is going to drink either way, but if it is legal they won’t be as tempted to drive to make curfew, but instead be responsible and inform people that they have consumed alcohol and cannot drive.
Lastly, I found quite a few worrying statistics that show that something needs to be done with the drinking problem in our youth. About 75% of people have drank underage and that doesn’t take into account all the people that lied about it. That is a very scary statistic. Another alarming statistic is that 26% have drank more than just a few times before 13-years old. (Szalavitz) Obviously this is a problem and something has to be done about it. I know I don’t want my kids drinking that early and I’m sure most Americans don’t want that either.
In other words, the drinking age and problems with it should be very important to people. Obviously, the current laws aren’t working so we need to make changes and try something different whether it is lowering the drinking age or some other plan to make the laws better to stop this epidemic of binge drinking in youth. Ogilvie made some good points about the drinking age having affects like prohibition did and that we need to be consistent with our laws. If you are legally an adult you should be able to make the decision to drink. With all the statistics and evidence of the current laws not stopping this alcohol problem in our younger generation, don’t you think it is time for a change?
“Drinking Age. ” Drinking Age ProCon. N. p. , 05 2012. Web. 28 Nov 2012. <http://drinkingage. procon. org/>. Ogilvie, . “Is lowering the drinking age a good idea?. ” Los Angeles Times 30 MAY 2011, n. pag. Print Synder, Edgar. “Drunk Driving Accident Statistics. ” Edgar Synder & Associates. N. p. , 25 2011. Web. 28 Nov 2012. Szalavitz, Maia. “Underage Drinking. ” Alcohol News. George Mason University, 29 2005. Web. 28 Nov 2012.