Full responsibilities to Young Adults
Alcohol is one of the most heavily consumed beverages in the United States. In 1995, the average adult drank about 36 gallons of alcoholic drinks, (or "hard liquor"). In comparison, the typical American drank about 25 gallons of milk, 21 gallons of coffee and 47 gallons of soft drinks (Drinking Habits). In studies through the 1990s by the Harvard School of Public Health, the percentage of college students who reported binge drinking within the previous two weeks remained steady at 44% (Update: Alcohol Issues). If the age is lowered, young adults won't binge as often making it safer and not something that's done to be “cool”. Learning how to drink at a younger age allows responsibilities to be taught before kids are sent to college. Lowering the high drinking age in the United States will reduce the irresponsible drinking habits amongst the youth in America.
The human body does not fully develop until around the age of 21, the intake of alcohol can cause crucial mental and physical damage to a still-developing body. So is this the reason why the age is 21? Centuries ago in the English common law 21 was the age men could vote and become knights, they were then considered responsible adults (Trex). Drinking at a young age could lead to permanent brain damage, negatively affecting a person's memory, motor skills and test-taking ability for the rest of their lives. It can even be more sever causing death or unconsciousness. By drinking alcohol too quickly, which is what most high school and college kids do, can prevent oxygen from getting to the brain. Although 21 was the age of adulthood centuries ago, the world and laws within it have changed.
The age of 18 is considered an adult. 18 year olds can go to war, file taxes, buy cigarettes, go to strip clubs, and therefore should be allowed to be taught responsible drinking. All of these new rules for the 18 year olds give them responsibilities as of those of adults. Minors can be sent across the world representing and fighting for our country, they seem mature enough to do that, so shouldn't they allowed to drink? Tobacco use kills more Americans annually than alcohol, cocaine, crack, heroine, suicide, fires, car accidents, and AIDS combined (Wallace). To deny a single responsibility of adulthood to someone who is-in the eyes of the law- an adult is indefensible and incomprehensible as far as I'm concerned (Cribbs). Responsible drinking should be taught to young adults within the family. With the age being 21, one of the highest in the world, responsibility cannot be taught because it then is being done illegally. By lowering the age to 18 this could reduce problems with drunk driving, alcohol related deaths, college parties and flunk out rates (Main, Carla T).
The environment for high school and college students is drink-to-get-drunk in the United States and is done more privately and illegally compared to the youth European drinkers. In European Countries with the lower drinking ages, young adults drink with respect, responsibility and it's not a big deal to them because they've been taught. Since 2005, the number of alcohol related deaths in college students has doubled what it was six years ago (College-Age Drinking Deaths). There are several stories on the internet of frat/fraternity initiations, also known as hazing.
Many end in deaths such as Arman Partamian, a freshman at State University of New York. He was found lying face-down on a mattress, dead drinking heavily for three days to gain membership in the club. Toxicology tests showed Partamian had a blood-alcohol level as high as 0.55 percent. Fellow students involved in the case were charged with hazing, unlawfully dealing with a child and criminally negligent homicide (Associated Press). The 21-and-over drinking laws have made for a more dangerous environment for American teenagers by prompting them to do their drinking in a more private, unsupervised environment. Teens will always drink, but with the age lowering they will have a new opinion toward it.
Young people will be supervised and will be in a controlled drinking environment and it won't be labeled as mush of a “cool factor” anymore. It is said that teens drink to live up to the idea of a “party” they see in the movies or on TV, as well as what their friends are doing (Tabacco and Alcohol Advertising). Some kids even drink to have friends, such as the story above. In situations such as those they can't get help from adults or else the consequences of getting caught. When drinking is legal, it takes place in the open where it can be supervised. When the drinking age went up, it was moved underground--to homes or cars or frat-house basements--where no adult could keep an eye on things. When kids who are drinking on the sly do venture out, they often "pre-game" first, fueling up on as much alcohol as they can hold before the evening begins so that the buzz lasts as long as possible (Minimum Drinking Age). College campuses are becoming unsafe for this matter and even college administrators agree to lowering the age.
The federal government has the right to reduce a state's annual highway funds by a small percentage if it does not enforce the minimum drinking age of 21, resulting in losing money for the states infrastructure. In 1983, the Presidential Commission on Drunk Driving submitted a report, which suggested that Congress pass legislation stipulating that the federal government should withhold highway funds from states that did not set a strict 21-and-over drinking age. In 1984, Reagan signed the act into law (ProQuest Staff). Within two years of the enactment of the National Minimum Drinking Age Act, every state with a drinking age lower than 21 had complied. Those who didn't lower their drinking ages installed toll booths along the highway to make up for the loss money (Action on Alcohol and Teens). By lowering the age this could result in losing money, but every year we waste millions towards law enforcement.
Money spent on local law enforcement could be saved by not having so much man power on the streets trying to enforce the dinking age. Limitations on local agency resources, therefore, can significantly decrease the capacity of local law enforcement agencies to implement compliance check programs. One limitation cited by officer is personnel shortages. As there is a limited number of officers on duty at one time, enforcement of alcohol laws may be neglected due to calls that are considered higher priority (Montgomery). Money is spent for “cops in shops” in stores such as Kum & Go. They also hire kids to go into stores and act as underage decoys to try and purchase. If the minimum age was lowered we could save millions of dollars for situations such as this. Cops would rather deal with bigger jobs such as robberies, or murder scenes rather than hunting down underage drinkers. If the age was lowered, we would be losing money due to the Minimum Drinking Age Act, but could be saving money by not having to have as many cops out searching.
If the drinking age were lowered the transition period may be confusing to young adults as many have not been taught responsible drinking habits (Blackston). The drinking age isn't meant to be a big deal, but the first couple years of lowering the drinking age could cause many students to be reckless. There are many responsibilities that come along with drinking at a low age, most importantly drinking and driving. Lowering the age will reduce all such problems, but at first will seem extremely hectic.
Lowering the current drinking age of 21-and-over will allow young Americans, most of who are perfectly capable of drinking responsibly; to no longer drink in private or in short amounts of time, thus alleviating potentially dangerous conditions. Drinking privately is extremely unsafe and when kids are in a situation they can't handle, they can then ask for help. Majority of teens are capable of being responsible and can handle the low age. This will alleviate all the problems with college students. Underage drinking is a huge problem in the United States because it has one of the highest ages in the world.
The irresponsible drinking habits American teens pick up can be less dangerous by lowering the high drinking age. Young adults who are 18 have a many new responsibilities that make them almost an adult; although they aren't fully developed the causes that harm the body won't be as bad because teens won't have the want to binge anymore. Strong evidence shows that the current drinking age is not working and needs to change.
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