Drinking Age Paper

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Over 21 is Not the Answer

“When you are 18 you are judged mature enough to vote, hold public office, serve on juries, serve in the military, fly airplanes, sign contracts and so on. Why is drinking a beer an act of greater responsibility and maturity than flying an airplane or serving your country at war?” (NYRA, 2005). The issue of the drinking age in the United States has been an ongoing battle for many decades.  Drinking ages varied by each state up until the 1980’s when the federal government threatened to take away a percentage of state’s federal highway fund (Keen, 2008).  Ever since this threat, all states have adopted the national drinking age of 21.  They are determined to keep this the legal drinking age even though many foreign countries are having success with lower drinking ages.  There are many arguments for and against lowering the drinking age, but I believe there are more compelling arguments toward lowering the age to 18 or 19.               “The American Medical Association links drinking to 1,400 deaths, 500,000 injuries and 70,000 sexual assault cases on campuses every year” (USA Today, 2007).  This links to my first point that the current drinking age is not solving anything.  There are still many problems created by drinking.  This is evident in college especially.  It is well known that the majority of college students drink, regardless if they are of legal age or not.  It has the “forbidden fruit” appeal to a lot of students.  This means that the illegal tag placed on alcohol in turn makes kids what to try it and drink.  Due to the fact that it is illegal, it causes underage drinkers to binge drink.  By doing this they consume large amounts of alcohol.  This leads to dangerous behavior and further problems.  This is what leads to the statistic mentioned in the beginning of the paragraph.  When underage people drink, they normally drink in an uncontrolled environment with no supervision.  This scenario is on its way to problems from the beginning.  If something were to go wrong they would fear legal or parental consequences. I asked fifteen students if they would call their parents if they were drinking and were in trouble. Twelve students said they would not contact their parents because they would be afraid, and one said her parents let her drink, so she would not be worried. This shows that the thought of this could scare them away from calling the proper authorities for help.  For an example, if kids were at a party and they were drinking, they might drive home in order to get home in time for their parents curfew.  They might drive home drunk so they would not get in trouble.   Imagine then if the drinking age was lower, then they could tell their parents the situation.  Maybe there parents would let them stay the night at the place where the party is, or maybe they would offer to pick them up.  Professor Ruth Engs says, “When faced with the opportunity to drink, underage drinkers tend to drink irresponsibly as a "badge of rebellion against authority" (Engs, 2000).  Alcohol is not always accessible to people under 21, so when they get the chance to drink, they drink to get drunk, and they do not really think through the consequences.  They end up driving and doing harmful things to themselves as a result.  “Dartmouth College, with 4,400 undergraduates, admits on average about 200 alcohol emergencies a year to their campus health center. Middlebury, with 2,300 students, averages about 100. McGill University - located in Montreal where the drinking age is 18 - with 20,000 undergrads reported only 12 emergencies in the 2002-03 academic year” (Guenther et al, 2006).  This is living evidence that in a society where drinking starts earlier there are fewer emergencies and problems stemming from alcohol use. A lower age would get rid of the forbidden appeal and binge drinking would not be as common as it is now.

There is evidence that changing the legal age to 21 has made binge drinking worse...
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