Alcohol: Lowering the Legal Drinking Age

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Alcohol: Lowering the Legal Drinking Age
Karita Lockwood
Professor O’Quinn
COM 323
October 29, 2012

Introduction
Alcohol is a drink that is made from corn, barley or a beverage containing ethyl. There is currently an ongoing debate as to if the legal age limit for alcohol consumption should be lowered. Despite the dangers, everyday in the United States more than 13,000 children and teens consume alcohol. The age range between eleven and eighteen is the most influential period when youths are susceptible to outside influences such as friends, classmates, family members and the media. Many young children start consuming alcoholic beverages before the age of fifteen. Drinking alcoholic beverages at a young age could lead to a life of ongoing problems. Underage drinking has severe consequence that many are not fully aware of. These consequences could include auto accidents, severe health problems, unwanted or unintended sexual activity, which could result in pregnancy and death. Although children and teens find a way to consume alcohol illegally, will lowering the age be beneficial?

Alcohol: Lowering the Legal Drinking Age
Consumption of alcohol has been an ongoing debate since early history. Prohibition was a period of nearly fourteen years of U.S. history in which the manufacture, sale and transportation of liquor was made illegal. It led to the first and only time and amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified by 36 states on January 16, 1919 and took affect one year later. Many societies from ancient history wanted to maintain stability and believed that drunkenness led to illness, impoverishment and the disintegration of families. Once the sale and manufacture of alcohol became illegal, bootlegging became a new profession. Bootlegging is the unlawful sale and manufacture of alcohol. Illegal drinking establishments began opening and individuals began making their own alcohol at home. Enforcement of prohibition was extremely difficult, costly and often violent for law enforcement from local to the federal level. So in 1933, the 21st Amendment was passed therefore ending the prohibition (u-s-history.com). It wasn’t long before a law would be passed to determine the legal drinking age. The Federal Uniform Drinking Age Act, signed into law in 1984, raised the national minimum legal drinking age to 21. This also meant that no alcohol could be sold to or in the possession of any individual under the age of 21. Under this act, the states that didn’t comply with the law would risk losing 10% of federal funding towards highway improvements. Currently, the United States is the only country that has a legal drinking age of 21. Other countries, such as, Spain, Russia, Mexico, Ireland, England and Australia’s legal drinking age is 18. Alcohol consumption is the most common type of substance abuse in teenagers. In society, alcohol is widely available and aggressively promoted. Teenagers that grow up in families of alcoholics or are exposed to alcoholic beverages at a young age are more likely to start drinking themselves. Most teenagers have their first drink by age 13. It has been estimated that 11% of the alcohol that is consumed in the United States is consumed by underage drinkers (starbreezes.com). How this possible if the legal age limit is 21? Teenagers tend to gain access to alcohol from adults or at parties where there is no parental supervision and an unlocked liquor cabinet. Parents have a significant level of influence on children’s decisions about alcohol consumption, especially when the parents create a supportive and loving environment filled with constant talks about reality outside of the home. As children, the level of inquisitiveness is present so without making them aware of certain dangers that they may face, this may aid teens in experiencing something new not knowing the long term effects from nights of fun or eagerness to fit in. Adolescence is a major part of teen...
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