Minimum Legal Drinking Age

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Jerry Lopez
ENG 68
Mushik
2/27/13
The Minimum Legal Drinking Age
Underage drinking has been become a large issue in the recent decades, becoming a rising issues mainly among young college students. This debate of either lowering the drinking age or keeping it as it is has caught great attention, especially with academic superiors.

In 2008, 100 college presidents called for a debate about bringing down the drinking age. In Shari Roan’s essay, “Tempest in a Bottle,” agreed that “[their] experience as college and university presidents convinces us that twenty-one is not working. A culture of dangerous, clandestine ‘binge-drinking’--often conducted off-campus--has developed.” This occurrence of binge-drinking in clandestine settings is a result of college students not being able to legally purchase their own alcohol. These clandestine areas include places like fraternity, house parties or even out in street at night, all in which no adult supervision is involved. Young adults who are curious about drinking are shunned from places where safe and responsible drinking is promoted and so, instead, they decide to escape and drink in secret where they’ll have no “older adults who might model more appropriate behavior.” This will end up resulting in unsafe and irresponsible consumption of alcohol like binge-drinking. The aim is to eliminate irresponsible drinking, not promote it and it seems by having the drinking age so high is what is causing this unsafe drinking behavior among young adults. In Europe, where the drinking age is lower there than here in the states, the consumption of alcohol is higher there, but alcohol abuse rates are higher here. Actions could and should be taken to promote safe and responsible drinking behavior among young adults, regardless if the drinking age is lowered or not. Even though we don’t want them out and about drinking, we shouldn’t deny the fact that they do and so just like Elizabeth M. Whelan mentioned in her essay, “The Perils of Prohibition,” they should be taught how to drink responsibly just exactly like how they are taught about safe sex. Parents hope their children aren’t engaging in sex at such a young age, but still take the precaution that they do and teach them safe sex. Just like parents sit down and have “the talk” with their kids, they can engage their kids the same way about underage drinking and how to do it responsibly. This all might sound convincing to some to be more lenient about underage drinking or even lowering the drinking age, but the statistics of alcohol related deaths and injuries amongst the underage don’t lie.

Going back to Roan’s essay, “approximately 1,700 alcohol-related deaths…occur among college students each year in the United States.” The number is huge and the fact that it happens averagely every year is unacceptable. There are too many unfortunate events that occur among college students due to underage drinking like the story of “the 18-year-old [who] drank until he passed out, was dumped onto a couch and was found dead the next morning” that was mentioned in Roan’s essay. Or even the story in Whelan’s essay of the intoxicated student who placed himself into a chimney and was then found dead three days later by his fraternity brothers who were attempting to light a fire. The lack of enforcement of the drinking age could be left at fault for these tragedies or even “our failure to teach young people how to use alcohol prudently” as Whelan stated. The ultimatum is that young adults are dying because of their careless use of alcohol. It’s not just the fact that they do it, but it’s also the way they’re doing it. Binge drinking is a huge problem with young adults, in a survey mentioned in Roan’s essay, “over a third of college students admitted they had binged on alcohol at least once in the previous two weeks.” College students come to college with much more freedom then they ever had before and sooner or later are introduced to drinking. Most who...
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