The Legal Drinking Age Should Be 18

The Legal Drinking Age Should Be 18

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Unsupervised, underage drinking has become an epidemic throughout the world, but in the in America more than anywhere else. Even the president’s 19 year old daughter has been arrested for underage drinking. America has the highest legalized drinking age in the world. In fact, only four countries in the world have a legalized drinking age over 18. When we turn 18 in America we are supposed to be adults, but then what is the 21 age mark it is like we get an adult trial version for three years without some freedoms but with all the consequences. For example a twenty-year old, wounded soldier from Iraq can vote, get married, and be tried as an adult, but he can’t even buy a drink! Apparently, we value the condition of his social life more than life itself. Hundreds if not thousands of soldiers have experienced the same scenario. This is nothing new, there is a long history of alcohol ageism.
     The first establishment of a national drinking age actually started before prohibition. The temperance movement at the time used a minimum drinking age to gradually bring about the ban of alcohol all together. In 1919 the temperance movement got what they wanted and the 18th Amendment was created banning the sale of Alcohol in America. This ultimately failed resulting in increased gang violence and bootlegging. In 1933 due to a change of public opinion the ban was lifted with what is called the 21st Amendment. After prohibition what was left of the temperance movement made sure that a minimum drinking age remained. This made it illegal for anyone under 21 to buy liquor but in some states you could still buy beer at 18. This remained the case for the next forty years. In the early 70’s when baby boomers were dealing with the Vietnam war there was pressure to lower the drinking age, so many states (29 of them) lowered the LDA to either 18 or 19. The big argument was that if one could die in combat why couldn’t he have a drink. But, as the baby boomers aged there wasn’t as much support for these liberties so by the 80’s most states went back to 21. Then in 1984 the National Minimum Drinking Age Act passed which forced all states to adopt a drinking age of 21 within 2 years or face being cut federal funds for state highways.

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This is in effect to this day.
     In many European countries drinking is part of their heritage for holidays and special occasions. The majority of people in these countries are very responsible with alcohol and I believe it has to do with their upbringing, what their parents taught them about drinking and allowing them to drink at a young age so it doesn’t feel like it is something evil and exotic you have to do behind your parent’s backs. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism did a survey and found that on average the first time young boys experiment with alcohol is 11 years old and 13 for girls. My parents let me drink as I was growing up at new-years parties and when I was in High School they would let me have drinking parties in our basement, they just took our car keys and we had to stay on the property. Eventually the drinking became less thrilling and I stopped drinking as much and only on occasion socially.
     My opinion is that we should lower the drinking age to 18 years of age or let separate states decide, but stress alcohol education in schools at an early age. One thing that seems to work in some countries is to allow children as young as 14-16 to drink in a restaurant when accompanied by a legal guardian. This allows parents to teach responsible drinking in public place. I think that if we could allow children to make the right choices with support from the parents they will be more likely to make wise decisions later on their own.
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