Underage Drinking Essay, Research Paper
SHOULD THE LEGAL AGE BE
When teen-agers turn 18, their parents tell them that they are adults and send them into the world. They go to college, get a job, join the military. They do grown-up things like vote, pay taxes and become parents. But they can?t go to the bar for a beer because when it comes to liquor, they are still just kids. Where?s the fairness in the 21-and-older drinking law? Where?s the logic? I myself wonder this everyday. I mean I understand that our government doesn?t think that people under the age of 21 can be responsible enough to drink, However I myself am 19 years old and I know from experience that we underage drinkers can and are capable of being responsible drinkers in a controlled environment. And I?m up here today to prove it!
Although the legal purchasing age is 21 years of age, a majority of college student under this age consume alcohol but in an irresponsible manner. This is because drinking by these individuals is seen as a forbidden fruit a way of rebelling against authority. As a nation we have tried prohibition legislation twice in the past for controlling irresponsible drinking problems. This was during National Prohibition in the 1920?s and state prohibition in 1850?s. But did these laws work? No, they didn?t, people repealed these laws because they were unenforceable and because these laws caused other social problems. Today we are making the exact same mistake. Prohibition didn?t work then and prohibition for people under the age of 21 is not working now.
According to Ruth C. Engs a professor at Indiana University those under the age of 21 are more likely to be heavy drinkers also know as binge drinkers (consuming over 5 drinks at least once a week). Here are some examples from Ruth?s findings, 22% of all students under 21 become binge drinkers compared to 18% of those over the age of 21. Among drinkers only, 32% of them are underage and also binge drinkers, compared to 24% are of legal age and are binge drinkers. These are big differences between the people old enough to drink and those who are under drinkers.
Ralph Hinginson, a Boston University professor and researcher, said the main reason to keep the drinking age at 21 is that alcohol-related traffic accidents are the leading cause of death among teen-agers. However from research done I learned that there has been a decrease in drinking and driving related variables. Which means a decrease in drunk driving accidents and drunk driving fatalities and also in drunk driving citations. However these declines started way before the national 1987 law which forced states to only sale to those individuals 21 years of age and higher. These declines are a result of many factors not just the new drinking age. Some of these factors are as followed, education concerning drunk driving, designated drivers programs, increased seat belt and air bag usage, safer automobiles, lower speed limits, and free taxi services from drinking establishments. And this list can go on forever.
While there has been a decrease in drunk-driving incidents there has been an increase in other problems related to binge drinking among teens. These increases are mainly due to the new legal drinking age. Here are some of the facts that I was able to dig up. I will show you statistics from before the law and how they changed after the law. From 1982 to 1987 about 46% of students reported “vomiting after drinking.” This jumped to over 50% after the law change. Significant increases were also found for other variables: “cutting class after drinking” jumped from 9% to almost 12%; “missing class because of hangover” went from 26% to 28%; “getting lower grade because of drinking” rose from 5% to 7%; and “been in a fight after drinking” increased from 12% to 17%. All of these behaviors are because of irresponsible drinking. If these kids would have been educated at a younger age to respect alcohol and and not to use alcohol in a irresponsible manner than all of these problems could be resolved.
Well before I wrap things up here I would like to bring up one more point. Based upon the fact that our prohibition laws aren?t working, the need for alternative approaches from the experience of others, and ancient cultures, which don?t have these problems need to be tried. I mean Look at the Italians, the Greeks, The Jews, and the Chinese, who have few drinking related problems, all these cultures seem to share the same characteristics. In all these cultures alcohol isn?t seen as poison or as a magic potent, and there is little or no social pressure to drink, young people learn at home from their parents how to handle alcohol in a responsible manner. In these cultures there is no consensus on what constitutes responsible drinking. However here in the United States you can t be a responsible drinker unless you are 21 or older. This could all change someday with all of your help.
So in conclusion underage drinking isn?t bad. People under the age of 21 can be responsible with alcohol, they just need to be taught at a young age to be responsible with alcohol, and not to abuse the it. Which can be possible if the legal drinking age was dropped down to 18. I mean before the new drinking age law was passed things weren?t bad off. It wasn?t until after the new drinking age was enforced that everything started going downhill. So to me that means that we need to change and retreat back to the old law. This was when drinking problems were at there lowest. Well, Last but not least I would like to leave you with a popular saying, If we are able to die for our country at age 18, we should be able to toast to our country at age 18. Thank you.