Underage Drinking and Lowering the Drinking Age

America’s problem with underage drinking needs a powerful and result –driven solution. Teen alcohol abuse is out of control and leads to unnecessary and abundant deaths and imprisonment among teens. College’s campuses are a large center for underage drinking and some college presidents and other authoritative figures are seeking to solve this problem by lowering the drinking age in America. However, lowering the drinking age from twenty-one to eighteen is a bad policy because it would only lead to increased alcohol-related traffic accidents and teen imprisonment.

A cultural issue in need of evaluation is the lack of adult attention to the problem of drinking and driving. Too many parents believe that the issue has been resolved for teens and that the awareness of drinking and driving catastrophes is understood. These parents believe that their example or discussion on the issue is no longer necessary. However, according to SADD (Students Agains Destructive Decisions and Students Against Driving Drunk), “teens whose parents talk with them about driving behaviors are more likely to say that their parents influence their driving behaviors”(Acton 2).

This could mean that parents who do not discuss the subject with their teen, are increasing the chances that their teen will drink and drive. Based on data from the National Center for Health Statistics, the highest cause of death between 15- to 20-year olds is motor vehicle accidents (Acton 2). Logically it can be deducted that intoxicated youths will only increase this problem, as most of the motor vehicle accidents involving teens are direct results of drinking and driving (Acton 2).

Another cultural issue in dire need of evaluation regarding alcohol consumption among teens is the rising rate of teen arrests and legal offenses. Teen alcoholism is rising in this country and though some authorities such as William R Brody, Johns Hopkins president, feel that keeping the age at 21 incites teens to hide their drinking issues (Kiehl para. 3), scientists, doctors, and psychologists offer more insight into how drinking may lead to brain malfunctions and slow emotional growth which in turn leads to poor choices when under the influence of alcohol.

According to Alcohol Alert, the newsletter from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, alcohol use interferes with depression and stress and contributes to suicide and suicide attempts (ed. 59). Furthermore, alcohol abuse is a common factor in date rape, whether used by the offender, the victim, or both (Alcohol Alert ed. 59). High risk or unsafe sex is also more common among people who are under the influence of alcohol as seeking protection from sexually transmitted diseases or unwanted pregnancy is not an issue that crosses the mind of someone under the influence of alcohol (Alcohol Alert ed.

59). Finally, there are more fights and violent actions taken by teens in stressful situations while under the influence of alcohol (Alcohol Alert ed. 59). The advocates of lowering the drinking age to the age of eighteen lack the foresight to see the real possible negative ramifications of such a change. Their greatest insight is that it would change the “underground” status of underage drinking and open up the teens to revealing their drinking problems. As told by Johns Hopkins President William R.

Brody,”We’d at least be able to have a more open dialogue with students about drinking as opposed to this sham where people don’t want to talk about it because it’s a violation of the law” (Kiehl para. 3). But this would not be enough of a solution to the problem. Even college students admit that students would drink the same whether the drinking age was changed or not (Kiehl para. 21). Lowering the drinking age from twenty-one to eighteen will only increase the amount of traffic violations, accidents, and deaths among teens.

The fact that it is difficult for teens to obtain alcohol legally, logically reduces the number of teen drinkers and thus drivers. The awareness of teens that they need to hide the fact that they have been drinking may lead them to think twice about the ramifications of drinking and driving. Not only would faulty driving lead to a ticket for reckless and intoxicated driving , but a charge with the offense of underage drinking. The consequences to pay would be higher than if the teen had only one offense to answer to.

Also, the theory is that a more responsible adult would possess the thought process to realize the possibilities of driving drunk and causing death. Too many youths are under the belief that they are invulnerable (Alcohol Alert ed. 59) and thus cannot comprehend the possible consequences of drinking and driving. So to allow them clear access to alcohol which can impair their judgment even more is just asking for trouble. Furthermore, lowering the drinking age from twenty-one to eighteen, would only lead to more teenage imprisonment and arrests.

As the youths readily obtain alcohol with the freedom from being accountable for the offense of underage drinking, more youths will tend to try alcohol which will lead to more drunk teens making more poor decisions. Such decisions are likely to be date rape, sexual aggression and rape, and also recklessness or use of other drugs and violence. These can all lead to imprisonment, thus raising the rate of teenage offenders and prisoners in the United States. Without great and satisfactory reasons for lifting the drinking age, this is a law that should not be passed.

Clearly, lowering the drinking age to eighteen would only serve to increase the negative issues and problems which we already face as a nation from underage drinking.

Works Cited

Acton, Jim. “Drinking and Driving Remains a Serious Threat to Teen Safety”. SADD Newsletter 21 May 2001. 10 December, 2008. <http://www. sadd. org/teenstoday/teenstodaypdfs/TTCommKeyMay2101. pdf> Alcohol Alert, edition 59. April 2003. 10 December 2008. <http://pubs. niaaa. nih. gov/publications/aa59. htm>. Kiehl, Stephen. “Colleges:Drinking age not working”. Baltimoresun. com. August 19, 2008. December 10, 2008. <http://www. baltimoresun. com/>.

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