About a week ago I saw an article about college presidents who were seeking to lower the drinking from twenty one to eighteen. After reading it, I started thinking about all the possible outcomes if they did decide to drop the age down to eighteen. So I thought I’d write a article about my thoughts on the subject and see what kind of feedback it generated.
Lowering the drinking age could in fact help prevent to the numerous problems the United States has with youth and alcohol. It seems to me that half the fun of underage drinking is the “rule breaking” element. If that was removed from the equation, drinking at such a young age might become less appealing.
For example, in parts of Europe, it is culturally acceptable for children to start drinking at a young age. But contrary to some beliefs, they are not allowed to consume it excessively. Instead, they drink in small amounts, like having a glass of wine with dinner. Because parents start them so young, they have a better chance of molding their views on drinking. By the time they reach their teen years European teens know how to consume alcohol responsibly and are therefore less inclined to participate in activities like binge drinking.
In contrast, here in the United States alcohol and drinking is made out to be this huge deal. It’s portrayed as a ‘super’ everything–super fun, super cool, super mature. Many teens who drink, do so because it makes them seem older and more experience.
Plus, doing something disobedient and against the rules makes it even more tempting. It’s like when parents tell us not to do something and it makes us want to do it even more, but only for the sole purpose of defying them. When all teens here are warnings from parents and cheering from friends, underage drinking seems incredibly enticing.
Introducing alcohol at a younger age and teaching, instead of just warning, teens about the risks that are involved in alcohol consumption could definitely have positive results.
On the flip side….
Lowering the legal drinking age could just help escalate the problem. By the time they’re eighteen many teens have already started drinking, some for years. Lowering the age could just make it easier for teens to access alcohol.
There is already plenty of illegal drinking that goes on under wraps, and dropping the legal age down to eighteen could just fuel the fire. To quote my friend Mollie: “Instead of having your RA buy you a six pack, you can go out and get it yourself.” Meaning, instead of having to try and sneak around or go through others to acquire alcohol, teens will be able to go out and legally purchase it themselves.
This could be especially harmful in regards to eighteen year olds still in high school, because any drinks they legally obtain can easily be passed on to friends they have in lower grades. Juniors, sophomores, and even freshman would simply have to ask their senior buddies to go out and ‘score them some beer’.
Also, it could end up encouraging eighteen year olds who have abstained from drinking, to start. It’s sort of like handing a teen a cigarette and expecting them not to smoke it. Even though they’ve been told it’s bad and warned about the consequences, if it’s so easy to get then what’s stopping them from trying it? Just because you’re legally an adult at eighteen, doesn’t mean you automatically develop the maturity and judgment adults possess.
All and all, it’s a very complex issue. With so many factors to consider, the pro-con list seems endless. I’m honestly unsure about type of outcome lowering the drinking age would spark.
Here’s the link to the article.
What do you think?