Editorial: A Sip of Compromise

Mao Mei Sonkin

Eighteen-year-olds are given the freedom of being legal adults. They have the right to get married, young 18-year-old-men are required to sign themselves into the military, they are legally tried in court as adults, they can take guardianship over others, they can vote on how our country is governed, but they cannot drink alcohol. If 18-year-olds are responsible enough to have all those freedoms, they should have the freedom to drink.

The main conflict with underage drinking is the result of driving impairment. According to First Eagle Insurance statistics, 60% of all teen deaths in car accidents are alcohol-related. The zero tolerance driving law is strictly enforced to prevent this kind of tragedy from occurring. Pressure to drink and drive mainly stems from curfews, parental disapproval, pride, peer pressure, and impaired judgment. Therefore, why change the zero tolerance law? No one should be drinking and driving, especially the youth who are just learning how to drive. If the drinking age could be changed, the zero tolerance law should remain intact, if not more strongly enforced, to eliminate the fundamental problem.

The United States, which set its current drinking age in 1984, is one of the few countries that force teens to wait until 21 to drink, unlike the 16 to 18 year old drinking age set in most other countries. However, according to a 2010 statistic on the alcohol news website, 80% of high school seniors in the United States admit to trying one drink. At M-A alone, 42 out of 64 of this year’s junior and senior students drink alcohol, meaning they drink at parties frequently. Eight others stated that they drink on a few occasions when offered.

Fake I.D.s are very common throughout the U.S. and many youths get away with purchasing alcohol. It is also widely known and assumed that college students have easy access to alcohol, starting their drinking experiences around the age of 18 anyway. The current law is weakly and inconsistently enforced and does not stop or threaten most underage drinkers.

The other argument against lowering the drinking age is encouraging alcoholism early on. However, the fact of the matter is that the majority of college students drink anyway. The Core Institute stated that 73% of college students drink at least weekly. The youth will continue to drink with or without the lowered drinking age. 21-year-olds are no more prepared than 18-years-olds for the effects that alcohol brings. Although it is biologically known that the brain is more developed by 21 (yes, the brain develops as one gets older) this does not mean one will make better decisions under the influence of alcohol in that 3-year gap. Whether one is 18 or 21, they are no more emotionally ready to act in the correct manner when drunk. It would be safer for the 18-year-olds who will drink regardless to be protected by the law instead of having them sneak around, putting themselves in danger for fear of the legal consequences of drinking.

How one handles their alcohol and manages their consumption varies from person to person based on personality, size, experience, and genetics. No matter the age, suicides, car accidents, and deaths will result from alcohol. No matter the age one starts drinking, the effects will be severe. Whether 18 or 21, all drinkers must get used to the effects and learn from their alcohol experiences and mistakes.

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Comments

20 Responses to “Editorial: A Sip of Compromise”

  1. Clark Kent on March 15th, 2012 8:53 pm

    I’m not sure that the main reason for the drinking age is drinking and driving. It may have something to do with the fact that is negatively affects the growth patterns of newly developed neurological connections in the brain. Also, I’m not sure the “survey” that was conducted was statistically appropriate.

    A Mom Reply:

    I do think the reason the age went from 18 to 21 is because of the drunk-driving statistics. Americans aren’t the only ones who have an unhealthy view of drinking. Lots of adults drink way too much at social gatherings with little thought to how they are coming across as a role model to young people. It would be interesting for the paper to do a piece on youth drinking in England, France, Italy, Germany, Ireland and some of the Scandinavian countries to compare the statistics and habits. I think binge drinking as become a dangerous part of drinking behavior and that’s where education and role-modeling can play a part in changing that. If adults take a more responsible approach to drinking, then they will show their children that you can have a good time with out becoming completely drunk. Have a few drinks and enjoy them for their taste, not simply as a drug.

  2. Joseph Rabinovitsj on March 16th, 2012 3:29 pm

    I do agree with the statement that the drinking age should be lowered from 21. However, saying that one must get “used to the effects [of alcohol] and learn from their alcohol experiences” does not seem to be a proper justification for lowering the age. Instead, I believe that if anything, the United States should lower the drinking age with the intentions of STOPPING or MINIMIZING the over-consumption of alcohol by teenagers or anybody for that matter. Alcohol is a substance that should be enjoyed in reasonable quantities. If you’re drinking to get drunk or the government regards alcohol as a substance that should/is merely used for these negative ends, then you have a bigger problem that the government is enabling

  3. Harrison on March 18th, 2012 9:16 pm

    Very interesting take. Great article!

  4. Sabiha Viswanathan on March 18th, 2012 11:14 pm

    great job on the article! very interesting and informing!

  5. Amy Kim on March 19th, 2012 2:36 pm

    Great article; I agree!

  6. mdrace on March 21st, 2012 10:09 pm

    No matter what the drinking age is, the best way to combat underage drinking is through education to teach youths what can arise from irresponsible drunkenness. The U.S. will probably keep its drinking age at 21, if not indefinitely, then at least for much of the near future. Educating minors about alcoholism and making sure they have better hobbies (maybe, like, reading books, but who knows) is, I think, the best investment we can make.

  7. jpfau on March 23rd, 2012 2:42 pm

    Why don’t we follow a portugese model? Aside from their economic problems seems to me it works well.

  8. hu on March 23rd, 2012 2:51 pm

    Great article !

  9. Madeline Dutton-Gillett on March 23rd, 2012 2:55 pm

    This is a very well done article, but for anyone who’s taken one of Mr.Roisen’s classes, you know that underage drinking can negetively effect your brain. As you’re brain isn’t fully developped yet, drugging it with alcohol will cause it to develop slower (don’t quote me on this, I’m not an expert). The human brain isn’t even fully developped till around your mid-30′s, so even drinking at 21 can adversely effect your growth. I think this is a well presented perspective on the topic of legal drinking age in the U.S., and I do think that while allowing 18-year-olds to legally drink could reduce their impulse to do it behind their parents backs and then drive drunk, drinking even at the current drinking age effects your brain. Also, referring to what you said about how they already get so much responsibility so why shouldn’t they be allowed to drink, I feel like adding drinking could cause alcoholism early on–despite the education they’ve had regarding alcoholism.
    I personally think that the age limit is fine where it is, people who choose to drink before they’re 21 will continue to drink whatever the age limit. It won’t hurt anybody to wait another 3 or 4 years to drink.

  10. Jordan Z on March 23rd, 2012 3:01 pm

    saferides dog

  11. David Schmitt on March 23rd, 2012 3:28 pm

    In other nations where the drinking age is lower, the culture with respect to alcohol is much more relaxed. Here, too many people drink underage to get the sensation of being drunk, whereas in the countries with more liberal drinking ages, youths acquire a more tasteful sense of alcohol, drinking for enjoyment rather than for the sake of getting drunk

    Joseph Rabinovitsj Reply:

    False. That is a common misconception. If anything there was just as much binge drinking or even more among my French peers in France and my British peers at the British school I attended shortly than here in the states. And let me assure you, none of them drank for the pleasure of it, they all did so to get as snot-flying drunk as possible- in public I might add.

    Mukkins Reply:

    There should be another editorial calling for the routine use of “snot-flying” in everyday conversation.

  12. monika richardson on March 23rd, 2012 3:55 pm

    although its unrealistic to expect teens will stop underaged drinking, its good to raise awareness of its effects, so good article!

  13. msheffield on March 23rd, 2012 5:26 pm

    i see you schmitt, very true

  14. iNash on March 23rd, 2012 6:45 pm

    So True

  15. Kurt Songer on March 25th, 2012 3:20 pm

    I agree

  16. zpacalin on May 31st, 2012 8:12 pm

    balance and compromise is always important…every time something or someone is pushed too far in one direction, it/they break in one way or another.

  17. J Sartre on January 13th, 2013 1:38 pm

    Interesting article – I am going to stay closer to home and M-A!

    This article states “At M-A alone, 42 out of 64 of this year’s junior and senior students drink alcohol, meaning they drink at parties frequently. Eight others stated that they drink on a few occasions when offered.”.

    Do you know of the 64 kids what percentage take drugs when drinking? Is it true that in the parties when drink is available drugs also available?

    This article also states “Pressure to drink and drive mainly stems from curfews, parental disapproval, pride, peer pressure, and impaired judgment.”.

    What really pride, peer pressure, and impaired judgment means?

    Let me share my personal take on this: Among many one source of peer pressure, comes from a group of kids who are being recognized by the system as students to be proud of, such as those play in sports teams – Football, Water Polo, etc. In other word the system considers them a role model. This group of kids have highest influence on the other kids, and some weaker kids may do anything to be closer to the role model kids, even if they need to take drugs or drink to be closer!

    When was it last time at MA we tested Football, Water Polo, and other players for drugs? Some of you may already guess what the results would be like, and some of you may be very surprised!!!

    My question to the school management, do we really want to address root cause of problems associated with DUI? Or we just want to go with the flow, get the pay check and don’t rock the boat?