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Students dissatisfied with raised drinking age

By Denebola
Published: February 2011

Joel A. Rabinovitz,
Volume 18
March 21, 1979

The legislators see an alcohol abuse problem in this state; their answer is to raise the dinking age. I, too, see an alcohol abuse problem, but I don’t think that it is limited to teenagers, and, above all, I don’t think that the legislator’s answer will work.
The problem is two-fold: 1) to get alcohol away from the junior high and high school levels, 2) to curb alcohol abuse by “young people” (18-?). I will deal with the second problem first.
One argument used by the pro-raising people is that there have been more alcohol related deaths in the 18-20 year age group since the drinking age was lowered [in 1973]. Senator Olver of Amherst tore this argument apart: the statistics clearly show that, proportionately, 18-20 year olds get in no more, in fact, less, accidents than 21 year olds.
Also, a study shows that in states with higher drinking ages than bordering states, there is a higher percentage of alcohol related accidents within 30 miles of the border than in the rest of the state. Most of Massachusetts is within 30 miles of a state with a lower drinking age. This law is not only useless, but it is also self-defeating.
What is inconceivable to me is that the legislature feels that an 18 year old is mature enough to marry, and nine months later, raise a child, but that he is not mature enough to drink.
There is no doubt that there has been an increase in alcoholism and the consequences of alcohol abuse, its problems (e.g. vandalism); however, this is true for all ages. As the Boston Globe said in an editorial “Teenagers should not be the scapegoats for a problem that knows no generation gap.”
On to the first problem. I am immediately reminded of the deaths of those four girls from Reading.
The parents of the driver have been pleading for a higher limit bt are they really that naïve to think that their daughter, who had the highest alcohol blood count ever recorded, and had already been arrested once for drunken driving, could not, and would not, get alcohol, no matter what?
If a kid wants beer or hard liquor, he can get it. If the legislature is truly concerned about teenage alcoholism, they should toughen up the laws dealing with selling to minors, and then strictly enforce those laws.
Whatever the answer is, raising the age to 20 is just not it. Doing so is unfairly punishing a segment of the population. And, if experience teachers us anything, it will be that the only result of this law will be more alcohol related deaths and probably a return to drugs. Is this what the legislature really wants?

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