Drinking Age Should Be Lowered to 18 Years

There is a problem with the way the teenagers and youths are abusing alcohol and underage drinking has become an acceptable behavior in many societies in the world. However, there is a contemptuous issue of whether the drinking age should be lowered and some people are advocating for this. They argue that the minors should be educated about the dangers of drinking and not putting a limit on the age they should be able to access alcohol because this is not working. The authorities concerned should instead of putting a limit to the acceptable age of drinking be concerned about the educating the minors about the dangers involved in irresponsible drinking and binge drinking (Eigen, p. 2).

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National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984

This act was enacted into law on July 1984 in the United States and it was viewed as a mechanism which would act as a basis for all of the states to limit the age of accessing alcohol to twenty one years. Any state that would not comply with this law would be punished in being deducted a ten percent in the annual highway apportionment from the federal government. The United States Congress did not enact this act to make it an offense for the under twenty ones drinking but many states put an outright ban on underage drinking and put a provision that the legal age of drinking was twenty one years and above. But still there are some states that allow underage drinking provided it is done privately or under the consent and presence of an adult or adult family member or under various religious festivities (Hanson, p. 85).

This act has had its fair share of opposition and key among its opposer is the Conservative Party which opposed the enactment of the act into law from the first time it was discussed in congress. The party has since then not deemed it important to lower the age of drinking to eighteen years like it had been before. Another opposition came from Felix Ortiz a New York State Assembly member who came up with a bill that was supposed to lower the legal drinking age from twenty one to eighteen years. He commented on the act being unfair and that its enforcement was very difficulty (Eigen, p. 232).

The most audible opposition however came from the National Youth Rights Association which was founded in the year 1998, and its main agenda upon its foundation was to lower the age back to eighteen from twenty one. Even as of today, the National Youth Rights Association are still fighting for the act to be reconsidered and the drinking age to be lowered back to the traditional eighteen years. There have been other people especially college principals who feel that the legislation is socially bad and has intensified the drinking problems that are associated with college students and this has received a remarkable support from other quarters as well. In 2008, about 110 college principals from all over United States publicly stated their discontentment with the legislation and asked the government to reconsider the drinking age law in a movement that is commonly referred to as Amethyst Initiative (Heather, 152).

The United States is among the countries that have the highest drinking age in the world being in the league of United Arab Emirates, Oman, Japan, India and Iceland. Opposition also comes from other quarters where people feel that the law infringes the rights of the states and violates the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution which grants and reserves a states power.

Other better approaches to underage drinking

The Amethyst Initiative being a movement organized by various college presidents in the United States have called for the reconsideration of the country’s laws concerning drinking age. The movement enjoys the support of over 130 college presidents who have signed a statement calling on the government to reconsider the laws. It is under the umbrella of Choose Responsibility (Komro, p. 9).

The initiative argues that they have experienced first hand the problems that alcohol is subjecting the students to and they say that the law seems not to be working. They are calling on the law makers to rethink the law and also not to feel shy to incorporate some more policies like the education of the hazards that alcohol is associated with. They say that the best way to tackle the alcohol problem is through the use of policies which will ensure that the minors are educated about the dangers of engaging in binge drinking which are very rampant in the colleges in the United States (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, p. 256).

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They insist that rising the drinking age is only bringing more problems in the colleges because the students will just take the opportunity of being in college to engage in binge drinking. These has resulted in some problems like the students being unruly and sometimes health problems have been reported which have ended up being fatal. The performance of the students is also another issue and the initiative is concerned that with the continuation of the way things stands, the college graduates will not be responsible people in the future (Hanson, p. 90).

The initiative is calling on to the government to lower the age of drinking, but they are quick to say that the debate is not lowering the drinking age. The debate is a mechanism of the government taking responsibility and coming up with policies which instill abstinence to the minors and how this can be achieved. Right now the government policies which are concerned about alcohol do not offer a guideline on how the minors are supposed to handle alcohol with responsibility. They also argue that the government should come up with policies which give a guideline about how the minors are supposed to handle alcohol which would reflect on the future way the students would become responsible adults as far as alcohol is concerned (Voas, p. 584).

The authorities have the task of inviting new ways in which they can prepare young adults most of whom are in the campuses to come up with responsible decision concerning alcohol as this will also reflect on how they will use alcohol in the future. The authorities should have by now realized that the only legal option left for them is to come up with policies which aim at educating the young adults on the importance of abstinence from alcohol and the responsible use of alcohol. The policies should also be concerned about educating the young adults on making the decisions which are responsible in all issues pertaining to alcohol (Heather, p. 169).

The authorities also need to be realistic about the college life and consider their stand on the drinking age and see if these two things are really compatible. There is a high risk binge drinking in many campuses around the country and the authorities should not stick to their drinking age laws when the students need to be educated about the use of alcohol irregardless of the age they are in. What the government should be involved in is instilling the spirit of responsibility in the students and this can only be done if the government is realistic enough and comes up with policies which encourage this. However, the government is not even considering being engaged in a discussion to see if the drinking age should be lowered and whether the young adults should be educated more on issues concerning responsibility especially when alcohol is concerned (Hanson, p. 94).

The government and educators should be engaged in a debate which should be dispassionate, informed and civil in nature which should highlight the possibility of the drinking age being lowered and responsible drinking behavior being taught to the students. The educators have a problem because they are supposed to lead the students in responsibility and well being of the students is also a responsibility of the educators and they need the intervention of government to come up with policies which not necessarily lowers the drinking age, but at least creates an environment where the students can be educated about alcohol and responsibility in younger years (Eigen, 236).

The government should treat this in urgency because some students are already wrecking their lives when they are involved in binge drinking. This has contributed to a lot of social evils because the students once drunk can engage in any activity which include immorality and irresponsible sexual activities which could lead to a lot of problems. There are also health issues that are concerning to the educators and parents as well, and that is why the government should come up with policies which focus on the education of young adults on all fronts concerning alcohol.

Works cited

  1. Eigen, Lewis D. and John Noble. (1994) Drinking Under Age 21: Problems and Solutions. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration.
  2. Hanson, David J. (1990) The Drinking Age Should be Lowered. In Controversies in the Addiction’s Field, ed. Ruth C. Engs, vol. 1, 85-95. Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Co.
  3. Heather, Nick, and Tim Stockwell. (2004) The Essential Handbook of Treatment and Prevention of Alcohol Problems. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
  4. Komro, Kelli A. and Traci L. Toomey. (2002) Strategies to prevent underage drinking. Alcohol Research & Health 26 (1): 5-14
  5. Voas, Robert B., A. Scott Tippetts, and James C. Fell. (2003) Assessing the effectiveness of minimum legal drinking age and zero tolerance laws in the United States. Accident Analysis & Prevention 35(4): 579-87
  6. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2007) The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
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