A lower drinking age: dangerous risk or safe alternative?

By Denebola
Published: September 2008

By Rebecca Penzias

Federal law opposes drinking alcohol under the age of 18. Recently, however, the purpose of the 1984 National Minimum Drinking Age Act set by the federal government has been called into question.

John McCardell, former president of Middlebury College, instigated a campaign called the Amethyst Initiative. He has recruited approximately 120 college presidents, many from elite universities including Duke, Dartmouth, Tufts, Colgate, Syracuse, and Ohio State.

Many of these college presidents believe that the law against underage drinking actually makes it more difficult to regulate alcohol consumption on campus. They as a whole support lowering the drinking age.

“It’s pretty ridiculous that once you reach the age of 18 in the US, you can fight and die for you country in war and you can vote, but you can’t legally consume alcohol. It [just] doesn’t make sense, an anonymous senior said.

Others are convinced that introducing alcohol at a younger age will simultaneously introduce “restraint and limits as a former Newton South student has found after spending time in Peru, where the drinking age is 18.

She thought that the mere fact that alcohol “was not taboo or illegal made the interaction with alcohol less exciting and less of an impulse.

Although alcohol will be more easily accessible if it is legal to a younger range of people, the exhilarating feeling that comes with underage drinking that you are doing something you legally should not be that will go away.

Principal Salzer, however, opposes drinking under the age of 21.

“I’m not in favor of the 18 year old drinking age. I don’t want kids to be able to legally drink while they’re still in high school, Salzer said.

So why would adults over the age of 21 want to lower the drinking age back to 18?

Those who are in favor of changing the legal age believe that if 18-year-olds were able to legally drink, they would have the opportunity to drink in public places, which would cause them to drink more responsibly than they would in private.

Hopefully, these younger drinkers would learn better responsibility and set a good influence for younger teens.

Purchasing and consuming alcohol would then also not be as taboo, which would hopefully decrease the need that people feel to consume large amounts of alcohol quickly.

“Those who don’t currently drink aren’t the type to, and those that ‘Ëœwant’ to drink already do. I don’t drink, but I know who to talk to if I want to get alcohol. It’s tricky to stop kids from doing things they really want to, another anonymous senior said.

Whether adults and authority figures like it our not, underage drinkers have their ways of getting alcohol, even if it is illegal.

Lowering the drinking age would not completely eliminate dangerous drinking, drunk driving, or parties that get out of control, but many believe that it would greatly reduce the incidence of all of these for drinkers. They believe in giving teenagers the chance at a younger age to learn how to be responsible with their alcohol consumption.

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