December 30, 2018

The drinking age should be lowered

Maddie Herman ‘19
Image result for alcohol legal age
Alcohol is a huge part of American culture. Commercialized at sporting events or restaurants, it penetrates every part of society. This raises a large question for many people: If alcohol is such a huge part of American lifestyle, why is the drinking age so high?
Some people argue that the drinking age should be 21 (and in some cases even older) on the basis that this is when an individual is mature enough to handle the responsibilities that come with alcohol.  Others argue that lowering the drinking age could interfere with the development of young minds, if alcohol is used irresponsibly.
Scientists say consuming large amounts of alcohol may have negative repercussions on the development of the frontal lobe, the area of the brain concerned with movement and behavior. Therefore, consumption among youth and teens creates a greater risk for addiction and dangerous behavior.
While accurate, this argument is irrelevant as the brain continues to develop into a person’s late twenties or early thirties, meaning the same amount of damage is caused to an 18 year old as a 30 year old.
At 18, U.S. citizens are considered legal adults in America. From that point on, they can take on responsibilities such as voting, serving in the military, getting married and serving on a jury. This means that at 18, any person is able to die for their country, commit their life to another individual and even determine someone else's future.
During this shift into adulthood, people become liable for their own actions and become contributing members of society. In doing so, they agree to accept the repercussions of drinking as well as the benefits. As these rights entail similar, or even greater responsibilities, they should have similar age restrictions.
Lowering the drinking age, however, is more than just a logically sound argument; it will also help to reduce illegal activity.
It is no secret that a large percentage of college students consume alcohol under the age of 21. Alcohol is a large part of college life. If people were allowed to drink under the age of 21, it would decrease the amount of college students that drink alcohol illegally. Along with decreasing the amount of criminal behavior, it may also decrease drinking in college overall, simply because of the rebellious mindset of that age group.
A large part of underage alcohol consumption is driven by the desire to do something you are not supposed to do; eating from the “forbidden fruit.” By eliminating the thrill of breaking the rules, illegal drinking will become less prevalent as people will not have the same desires to drink.

In most of the world, alcohol consumption is legal at 18. European countries such as Italy and France who have this lower drinking age, have fewer drinking issues. There is no reason why America should differ from their foreign peers. A younger drinking age should not be a suggestion, but rather a necessity.

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