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The United States’ current minimum drinking age is 21. This age is unrealistic due to the fact that the legal age of adulthood is 18. Drinking under the age of 21 is permitted by law in certain states under some exceptions, such as for religious practices, educational purposes, and on private property with parental consent. Many important life decisions can be made at the age of 18, therefore drinking is no different from the rest of those decisions. Introducing alcohol at an age younger than 21 gives teens the opportunity to learn moderation from their parents and other adults.
So is keeping the minimum drinking age at 21 protecting young adults, or is it driving them to binge drinking in unsafe environments without supervision? The law against drinking under the age of 21 gives no chance of exposure for younger kids.Children are taught in school to stay as far away from alcohol as possible. This, in effect, leads to a “forbidden fruit” syndrome. Drinking alcohol is made out to be a taboo instead of being portrayed as an enjoyable, social activity.
The problem with having the legal drinking age so high is that during the time leading up to that age, people are not given proper education on alcohol. Instead of learning how to drink in moderation and in safe environments, the education received on it is often a negative one that aims towards prohibition rather than safe drinking. Young adolescents emerging into adulthood go out and drink with their friends regardless of the law. There is no supervision or guidance, and the lack of education of it can lead to binge drinking and addiction.
Today, the U.S. is one of the few developed countries that enforce a minimum drinking age of 21. Many countries in Europe such as Denmark, Germany, Spain, and Switzerland allow their youth to consume alcohol in public places at the age of 16 or 17. Keeping the minimum drinking age at 21 is not effective in stopping people under the age of 21 from consuming it. It is only driving the consummation further and further underground. Our federal government is overextending its reach into state affairs by withholding ten percent of funding for highways for any state that doesn’t keep the minimum drinking age at 21. This results in many states leaving the age at 21 as to avoid being exempt from receiving billions of dollars from the government for their highways. Is it right for the government to withhold the benefits entitled to these states to force their own opinion in laws that should be under state authority? The federal government is overstepping its bounds in this situation.
On the other hand, the legal age of adulthood is 18, but is it adulthood? Adulthood is defined by three things: taking responsibility, making independent decisions, and becoming financially independent. If a young adult is displaying all these qualities, shouldn’t he be granted all the rights and privileges of being an adult?
Lowering the drinking age would decrease alcohol-related injuries because young people would no longer be hesitant to seek medical attention due to the illegality of their consummation. Many unnecessary deaths occur every year because 18-20 year olds are too afraid of the consequences of getting caught with possession of alcohol rather than to assure the well-being of their peers. So this sparks the question, are emerging adults mature enough to handle the allowance of alcohol consumption? Will they make the right choices? Decreasing the legal drinking age could result in more vehicle accidents related to driving under the influence. But giving a legal adult the freedom to drink may also give them the power to make more mature decisions.
At the age of 18, one is able to get married, vote, serve in the U.S. military, and is legally considered an adult. If one is old enough to take part in deciding who the next president of the United States of America will be, sign legal documents, purchase a home, then a mature decision to drink is a definite capability. When a boy turns 18, he is considered a man in the eyes of his father, his family, and even the law, yet he is still considered too immature and too much of a safety hazard to consume alcohol. How can this be justified? If a man can die for his country at the age of 18, can he not drink a beer? Young adults are restricted and told not to drink until they are old enough. Who gets to say how old is old enough?
Children and young adults are offered little to no exposure to alcohol. Education on alcohol consumption is aimed towards prohibition rather than safe drinking. At the age of 18, a person is considered an adult and is granted all the rights and privileges of adulthood except for consuming alcohol. The federal government indirectly keeps states from lowering the age to 18. Lowering the age would decrease under-age drinking accidents and fatalities. The law keeping the age of alcohol consumption at 21 is doing more harm to society rather than letting society benefit from this law. The legal age for alcohol consumption should be the same age as the legal age of adulthood.
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