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Lowering the Drinking Age

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Lowering The Age Will Lower The Deaths
“’Drinking is Fun’ and ‘There’s Nothing You Can Do About It’: The Problem With the 21-Year-Old Minimum Drinking Age” an essay by Dr. Reginald Fennell, found in the Journal of American College Health, focuses on the effects of the minimum drinking age on college students. Fennell explains the benefits of lowering the drinking and gives alternatives to the current law. This article is of interest to readers since society seems to have a strong opinion of whether the drinking age should remain the same or be lowered. When a teenager turns eighteen, they have all the legal rights of an adult with the exception of consuming and purchasing alcohol. The author feels strong about his opinion. Fennell is not only an editor for the Journal of American College Heath, but he is also a professor at Miami University in Ohio where he teaches health classes. By speaking to his college students, and also having been a student himself, Fennell knows first-hand the experiences and actions of students on college campuses. The United States seems to believe having a high minimum drinking age will keep the alcohol related deaths to a minimum; however, Holt presents predictions and statistics to put into question what really is the best solution to the overwhelming increase of alcohol related deaths in the United States. In the article, Fennell asserts his alternatives to having a minimum drinking age of twenty-one. Fennell begins the article by reliving one morning on his way to a triathlon where a college freshman arrived still experiencing the night before. Fennell became very curious as to how the underage boy obtained the alcohol because when he was an undergraduate and graduate student, the drinking age was eighteen. Fennell now chooses not to drink; not because he became an alcoholic, but because he just does not wish to.
With that said, Fennell compares the minimum drinking age to the twentieth century prohibition. Fennell notes that students on college campuses under the legal age still drink and cause a multitude of negative consequences. He also mentions that in most other countries, the legal drinking age is eighteen and even though the United States has a minimum drinking age of twenty-one, one third of teens ages twelve to twenty consume alcohol. The author states that he believes the minimum drinking age should be eighteen to help teach responsible drinking and to reduce the number of people dying on his or her twenty-first birthday. Instead of raising the minimum drinking age, Fennell believes that drinking and driving policies should be stricter and enforced stronger. He states ignition locks would greatly reduce the number of deaths caused by driving under the influence. Fennell recognizes that changing the times of college classes will not reduce the number of underage students drinking because most college material is now available online. Instead, he believes that there should be a requirement that students should volunteer a certain amount of time in order to help understand responsibility. One of the sources Fennell refers to claims that colleges do not teach responsible drinking because they do not want to seem like they are enforcing illegal behavior; whereas, students believe drinking is a part of the college experience and will continue to drink despite the threat of getting in trouble.
While teaching class one day, Fennell had his students write a paper about drinking, what he found, not surprisingly to him, was that most students wrote about the positives about drinking and only one or two wrote about the negatives. Fennell states the facts about how much federal money is spent trying to prevent underage drinking and believes more needs to be put towards drinking and driving. He also mentions that he believes that legal adults should be allowed to legally drink alcohol. He also voices his opinion that colleges should teach responsible drinking to try to avoid the amount of alcohol abuse. Fennell adds that the students at the triathlon is still in college and is also doing quite well in his runny career. Fennell presents interesting alternatives and logical reasoning to lowering the current legal drinking age. Throughout the article, Fennell uses studies to back up his belief that the drinking age should be lowered and references the sources in his article. The statistics and studies he references are both recent and reliable. By incorporating so many statistics, the reader trusts Fennell’s arguments and sees the logical reasoning for his opinion. His use of statements and studies from national institutes further validate his arguments. Fennell uses a statistic from The American College Health Association National College Health Assessment to help emphasis his statement that the government should not be as concerned about the age one should legally be allowed to consume alcohol, but instead, their focus should be on drinking and driving. The ACHA-NCHA states that out of ninety-four thousand, eight hundred six students, a total of twenty-one thousand, two hundred seventy-nine students reported driving after consuming alcohol. Fennell uses this statistic to point out the severity of the real issue and to focus less on age and more on safety. Although the author presents numerous sources to back up his statements, he never states any advantages to lowering the drinking age. Fennell argues that colleges currently do not educate their students on responsible drinking because the college believes students underage should not consume alcohol at all. However, many colleges do inform students on how to drink responsibly, but the college states that they do not support consuming alcohol and have a no tolerance policy towards consuming alcohol underage on campus. To further persuade the reader of his opinion, Fennell should have stated other advantages to lowering the minimum drinking age, such as the economic advantage. After reading Fennell’s article, I agree the drinking age should be lowered. Fennell presents a valid point that the government should not be focusing as much on prosecuting teens for drinking underage, but instead should be focusing more on all the lives that have been lost from both teens and adults driving while intoxicated. I believe there are many advantages to lowering the drinking age, such as many teens will be less likely to steal alcohol if they are able to purchase it. They would also be allowed to drink in a public place where they could be better monitored instead of attending a party in which the attendees care more about not getting in trouble than calling for help if an incident occurs. While I agree with the author’s opinion, I do not agree with an alternative he suggests along with lowering the drinking age. Fennel mentions that in addition to lowering the drinking age, teenagers should begin to fulfill community service requirements. I believe if a person is going to volunteer, they should volunteer because he desires to help others without any gain for himself. I believe having a service requirement would make teenagers become more resentful towards authority for requiring them to volunteer in exchange for a lower minimum drinking age. Overall, I almost fully agree with Fennell and his opinion on lowering the drinking age. Fennell explained in great detail that instead of focusing on prosecuting underage consumers, we should be focusing on eliminating citizens driving under the influence. His references and statistics persuade the reader to become more concerned with driving intoxicated than to be concerned with underage consumption. I believe Fennell achieved his goal of presenting a very serious concern with alcohol consumption and that perhaps a lower drinking age will help teach the next generation how to drink responsibly.

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