Under Age Drinking and Today’s Youth
ENG 123 – IE, Summer 2014
There are those out there in today’s society who believe that today’s alcohol policy that is imposed on our youth here in America should be focused more so on the fact that alcohol consumption with the youth of today is going to happen at some point eventually. Instead, we ought to be trying to find ways to reduce the harm that our nation’s youth face from the use of alcohol; rather than trying to force the pipe dream of trying to keep today’s youth from ever drinking in the first place. A good example to this idea can be found from many other countries that have gone ahead and put into place different policies to promote safer consumption of alcohol by their youth. It is policies like this that have many people around our country saying that this is something that the Congress of the United States and State legislatures across the country should try and put into place in our society here in the U.S. as well. In essence saying that the U.S. should try not to set any policies in stone that ultimately refuses to even consider any possibility of alternatives that may potentially help or even work in the end. In the United States today, our society has the toughest, most strictly enforced, and highest drinking age in the world (www.youthrights.org). Millions of dollars across the country have been spent on sophisticated driver’s licenses to make it difficult to make fake IDs and distinguish someone’s age, and propaganda campaigns to prevent those under 21 from drinking any alcoholic beverages at all. However, even with all of these things in place, over 51% of high school seniors and 26% of eighth-graders during a poll in 1996 admitted having some form of alcoholic beverage within the past 30 days (Johnston, et. al., 2013). What is alarming still (if the above statistics aren’t alarming enough) is that the drinking rates among the youth today have remained shockingly consistent over the past 40+ years (Males, M. A., 1996). Today, we live in a country where most of its population can legally buy alcohol and where alcohol is advertised as something that all the “cool” and “in people” are doing. A country where drinking is even considered an important part of events such as New Year’s Eve and summer baseball games, to something to drink with pizza; the above stats should not be at all surprising. It stands to reason that the policy for the youth of today in the U.S. is actually failing our youth. Something even possibly more disturbing is that the legal drinking age today may even be counterproductive in the end. The legal drinking age is applied so rigidly throughout many parts of the country that it almost seems as if it is taking away any effort to attempt to teach our youth today how they should handle the use of alcohol in a responsible way. In the vast majority of counties across the U.S., adults who supervise a party where alcohol is present in an effort to prevent youth from drinking and driving home drunk can, in fact, be charged contributing to the delinquency of minors by allowing someone else’s child to drink in their homes. Minors who simply try to help their friends by being their designated driver can be arrested and charged for being at a party where alcohol is present. There are even some counties where taxi services that often give free rides to people that have been drinking to prevent drunk driving during the holidays, but ban those who are drinking under age from using their services. Again, it seems as though the laws and policies in place seem to be failing our youth rather than helping them in the end. Under these types of laws and policies, the vast majority of our youth today are learning about drinking in very unsafe environments such as a basement keg party or even a frat party where most of those students there drinking are under age and even at some points juniors...
References: 1. Johnston, L. D., O’Malley, P. M., Bachman, J. G., & Schulenberg, J. E. (2013). Monitoring the Future national results on drug use: 2012 Overview, Key Findings on Adolescent Drug Use. Ann Arbor: Institute for Social Research, The University of Michigan.
2. Males, M. A. (1996). The scapegoat generation: America 's war on adolescents. Monroe, Me.: Common Courage Press.
3. Males, M. A. The Minimum Purchase Age For Alcohol And Young-Driver Fatal Crashes: A Long-Term View. The Journal of Legal Studies, 181.
4. National Youth Rights Association » Drinking Age Position Paper. (n.d.). Retrieved
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