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18: Adult or Adolescent?

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18: Adult or Adolescent

Imagine you’re a 17-year-old teenager, on the brink of finally turning 18 and gaining the glorious title of adult. Along with turning 18 and becoming an adult comes new privileges and responsibilities. One is the ability to fight for this country and also exercise ones right to vote. If turning 18 allows one to take part in such adult activities, should the legal drinking age be reduced to 18 also?

“I think we would all be better off if the drinking age were 18” states Dr. James Wright, president of Dartmouth College. With the drinking age at 21, it doesn’t allow students to be treated as adults. Most underage college students will consume alcohol at some point. Some would think it’s a right of passage as a college student to consume alcohol. So, if these students are going to drink anyway, why not educate college, and incoming college, students on the effects of alcohol. This way they will be able to make the decision for themselves. If the legal drinking age is reduced to 18, college campuses will be able to regulate and monitor alcohol consumption and encourage them to drink safely. In fact, the University of Michigan conducted a study and found out that since 1982, alcohol-related auto deaths has reduced 58% in 15-20 year olds. Having the legal drinking age at 21 could actually be more dangerous. Those who are 21 and older and allowed to drink in public are monitored and supervised by police and other officials. But since those younger than 21 are not allowed to drink publicly are going to do so in private where there is no supervision.

Many people don’t know that it’s technically not illegal for one under the age of 21 to drink. The National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984 required all states to raise the minimum purchase and public possession of alcohol to age 21. This law only states that anyone under the age of 21 is prohibited to purchase and publicly consume alcohol. Nowhere in the law does it state that one under the age of 21 is prohibited from consuming alcohol in their homes or behind closed doors.

Yes, there is a risk of an increase in drunk driving, but everything we do has a consequence. But in fact, statistics issued by the US Department of Transportation show that fatalities caused by drunk driving has decreased in teens by 65% since the late 1980’s. Over the past two decades, Anhueser-Busch has spent more than half a billion dollars to promote responsible drinking. Underage drinking on college campuses have actually decreased because of this company’s commitment to promoting responsible drinking. This shows that the youth of this country are mature and responsible enough to drink. Since 2001, underage drinking has been it’s lowest in 15 years. This is contributed to the fact that parents are talking to their teenagers about the effects of alcohol. This also proves that along with being educated, teenagers are in fact mature enough to make their own decisions to drink or not.

If the legal drinking age were reduced to 18, there are things parents and educators can do to make sure teens are making smart choices about drinking. Dr. Dwight B. Heath of Brown University suggests that parents talk

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