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Argument to Lower the Legal Drinking Age in America

Argument to Lower the Legal Drinking Age in America

Throughout history, people have always wanted what they can’t have. Since the 1970’s, this is the attitude most lawmakers in America have taken with respect to underage drinking. It was at this time that many states changed the legal drinking age form 18 to 21. The theory behind this was, essentially, if you raise the drinking age, people will drink more responsibly, because with age comes responsibility. Unfortunately, the people who made these laws did not consider that responsibility is something that comes from experience and teaching – not just age. Currently, there are many anti-alcohol groups (most concerned with the problem of drunk driving) trying to stop people from drinking illegally before the age of 21. However, I feel that the solution lies not in abstinence, but in teaching young people how to drink responsibly, and by doing so at a younger age.

The United States is one of the only western nations on the planet in which the drinking age is over 18. In most cultures, drinking is perceived as a social activity. In Europe, many children (and I do not use the word "children" loosely) begin drinking in a social context with their parents by the early to mid-teens. In France, many families include wine as a part of the daily dinner, and in England, it is legal for a person to have an alcoholic beverage, in a public restaurant, with a parent, at the age of 16. So why is it that in America, we consider people who have wine every night to be alcoholics, and associate 16-year-olds who drink with stomach pumps? It seems to me that Americans have created an artificial problem with drinking, which precludes us from imbibing in the same fashion as Europeans. The fundamental difference lies in learned responsibility. Europeans teach their children to drink responsibly, whereas in America, children grow up being told that alcohol is as deadly as cancer. I am no developmental psychologist, but I am almost certain that the best way to get a child to do something is to tell them not to do it. So what happens? Kids are drilled for years about the harmful effects of alcohol, yet often see adults drink. The result is that when these children grow into teenagers, their curiosity heightens, and they raise their glasses without knowing quite what they...

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