Lowering the drinking age

This topic from CNN news is one I’ve long debated over: should we lower the drinking age?  

On one side of the debate, the testimony from countries who allow kids to have a glass of wine with dinner, and they tend not to go nuts and die from binge drinking when they are suddenly let loose in college.

On the other hand, does it encourage kids to drink earlier?

On the other hand, I take great issue with the term “kids.”  Until a person is in their 30’s, they are girls and boys and kids.  Forget about the fact that, at 18, they can vote and fight for their country, they are tried as adults and can sign legal documents.  We insist that they are children who know nothing and should be treated with no respect.

Well, yeah, they know nothing.  I think most of us know nothing until we are probably 50.  And maybe not even then.  But to treat someone as a baby lets them off the hook (“Boys will be boys!” = there is no point in trying to civilize the young males.  This is crap.)

I have long been in favor of making the 18 year old cutoff age as the true threshold of adulthood.  At that point you are a grown-up, with all the rights and responsibilities that go along with this label, and if you mess up we aren’t going to smile and waggle our finger and say, “Kids will be kids.”  You will be busted.

And there will still be drunk drivers, there will still be people dying of alcohol poisoning, unfortunately.  But we will have consistent expectations of our young people.  They will know when they need to wise up and start behaving themselves, even if in reality it ends up taking them awhile to get there.

3 Comments

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3 responses to “Lowering the drinking age

  1. Joy

    This is hard to put in a nutshell. I feel like you do (I think). If someone is old enough to vote, go to war and sign legal documents, why can’t they have a beer? I mean you can get married, have a child but can’t order a glass of wine while dining out. That just doesn’t make sense to me.

    Most of my relatives live in Canada where the legal age is 18 and I see no difference in the way they drink or the way we drink. I feel it’s how “kids” see their parents and other older people in their lives drink. I also feel that alcoholism is a hereditary disease therefore it wouldn’t matter at what age that person drank.

    Drinking and driving is another issue to my mind and NOBODY should ever do it.

  2. This one has always been tough. When I was a kid the legal age was 18. When they pushed it back to 21 a few years later (after much public debate) it didn’t seem to change much. Kids still went to war, they (sometimes) voted, they still drank. Drinking is going to happen, drinking and driving during and after is going to happen, but it’s such an individual experience. I knew kids who went nuts, I knew kids it didn’t change. I do wonder about the ‘whoo-hoo!’ factor of change. Due to my girlfriends daughter I’ve met many kids going off to college and I can spot which ones are going to lose it.

    My girlfriends daughter is the youngest at 17. A funny moment came after she got in the truck after staying over at the school for a night. The first thing out of her mouth was not about academics, facility, people. Her ass wasn’t on the seat before she said,

    “I didn’t know this was a dry school!”

    She’s often none too happy with me and I didn’t help that this time when I said,

    “Doesn’t matter. In four years when you graduate you will still be four months away from legal.”

    I know what she’ll do (I know what she does now) but, like I said earlier, it’s such an individual experience. And my individual experience is, yeah, they can do it.

    In four years.

  3. Personally I’d like to see the drinking age stay at 21. But then, I’d like to see registration with Selective Service raised to 21 as well. I think most 18 year olds still have way too much growing up to do to be turned loose as ‘Adults’. Not that I’m excusing the ‘boys will be boys’ mentality you mentioned. I agree with you there. Criminal activity should be treated as such no matter what age a person is.

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