Lower drinking age?

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by HereWeGoAgain, Aug 21, 2008.

  1. HereWeGoAgain

    HereWeGoAgain Grandpa

    A group of professors has proposed fighting college drinking by... lowering the drinking age. According to their logic, it would end clandestine binge drinking, or something.

    Sometimes when people make a "counter-intuitive" argument, it makes sense when you think about it. But on this one, I ain't buying.

    Here's a good article I came across:
    The Perils of a Lower Drinking Age by Steve Chapman

    Some excerpts:
    Well said.
  2. mstang67chic

    mstang67chic Going Green

    I don't understand this concept either. We're having problems with campus drinking so this guy wants to lower the age to include those that have even LESS maturity than the college kids??? Makes absolutely no sense.
  3. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I may be the only one who thinks this is worth considering...but I sincerely do think so. Ever since WWII (and maybe before) 18 year olds have been drinking. College kids drink. Young soldiers drink. The 18 year olds hang out with kids two or three years older once they are out of high school. Just like cigarette smoking...some will and some won't.

    If you live in a college town the police ignore the drinking age so long as the behavior isn't too far out. on the other hand if you live in a town where law enforcement officers are seeking something to do, you can end up with a record in a New York minute.

    Every person who is DUI deserves to pay the consequences. Alcoholics, like my much loved easy child/difficult child, can't be allowed to endanger others.

    Some state's used to allow 18 year olds to drink beer with a lowered percent of alcohol. There could be a compromise from the study. by the way
    around here (even in the big cities) 18 year old girls are allowed into clubs
    but 18 year old boys aren't. HUH?? Interesting. DDD
  4. muttmeister

    muttmeister Well-Known Member

    It does make some sense to me. When I was growing up, we lived on the Kansas border, where you could buy 3.2 beer when you were 18. Most people I knew drank much less as soon as they turned 18 and it was legal. Also, about a year after I turned 21, the legal drinking age was lowered to 18. This was during the VietNam era and part of the thinking was that if you were old enough to die for your country, you were old enough to have a drink. During that time, it seems to me that, with the young people I knew, there was less binge drinking. As far as the article goes, you can believe whatever research you want because when somebody is trying to make a point, they can always skew the data to support their conclusions. I'm sure, if I wanted to take the time, I could find data that says just the opposite. Most countries in the world do allow drinking in at least some situations at a much lower age than 21. Twentyone used to be the age of adulthood. In this era, kids are both physically and psychologically maturing sooner. I really think the age 21 law causes more problems than it solves. Kids who are living on their own, making their own money, and doing all of the other things that adults do, are, in most cases, going to drink. Criminalizing it is stupid.
    Also, it needs to be pointed out that drinking, and drinking while driving are two different things. I don't know any thinking person who would be in favor of relaxing the laws pertaining to drinking and driving. However, in the last few years there have been numerous attempts to blur the lines between the two and treat them as one problem.
    I don't know that I'm definitely in favor or lowering the drinking age but I think that our first reaction to say, "absolutely not" needs to be examined a little more closely.
    Of course, I'm somebody who averages about 1 drink every 2 or 3 months so maybe what I think doesn't count.
  5. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    in my humble opinion, the bottom line is education - again. We teach our kids about everything from sex to alcohol to drugs, driving, how to kill people in other countries; 18 year old's can own property, sign contracts, get married and have babies and yet, for some reason, we can't teach them how to drink safely and within appropriate limits?

    In my house, I allowed both daughter's to have a wine cooler or beer (if they wanted one - they often said No Thanks) with dinner occasionally after 18. ONLY IN MY HOME-AND NONE OF THEIR FRIENDS, EVER. I didn't encourage it, but it wasn't taboo. Did they partake? Sometimes to rarely. Even despite difficult child's involvement with with alcohol this past year, she is not a big drinker. Her friends once told me that she rarely even finishes a beer. And at a family graduation party, her cousin said she turned down a second drink. Pot yes, alcohol not so much. And easy child has never been a real big drinker. I believe that thier 'take it or leave it' attitude is because we never made it a super big deal. I am a responsible drinker and H has come clean about his alcoholism and they know and respect that he's not drinking anymore.

    Whether the drinking age is 18 or 21, I believe that most kids start stealing booze and snatching drinks when they are about 14/15 years of age. Binge drinking has been around forever. I remember playing a game called "Quarters" at bars all the time. You bounce a quarter into a shot glass. If you miss you drink the shot - if you get it in, your friend drinks the shot. It's similar to Beer Pong. And what about those stupid hats with the holders for 2 beers and a tube that leads to the drinkers mouth? Those have been around before I started drinking.

    I see this as just another way of our government trying to micromanage it's people again. Values and appropriate behaviors are taught at home, not by making up laws that don't work or inhibit people from doing what they are going to do anyway. Some European countries don't even have age limits at all.

    That said, I think that the laws regarding driving while intoxicated, etc., should all stay in force as is. Up here in CT they are very strict. Re-educating our soon to be adults in HS health class can be helpful. Even more helpful would be to have some people who have either lost a child or have been jailed due to drinking...and some speakers from AA wouldn't be a bad thing either - to stress how a social activity could soon turn into an addiction or possibly lead to jail time or death (of themself or an other person).

    I think it's naive of anyone to believe that when they ship their 18 year old off to college, he/she's not going to imbibe. I would rather have my child be fully aware of what her reaction to and limitiations are of alcohol BEFORE she reaches the campus. And in regards to campuses - there is campus security and RA's in every dorm. My easy child told me that the RA's look the other way and security is rarely even around on weekend nights.

    I think this has the potential of being a very touchy discussion I think; especially on this board.
  6. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I am officially old. I grew up when the drinking age changed with me. Or at least it did in the state I grew up in. When I turned 18 we could buy beer. When I turned 21, you could buy liquor. Then right after I turned "legal" for everything they did the whole nationwide thing where you had to be 21 for everything but it didnt matter to me.

    I dont think VA had 3.2 beer but maybe it did. I do remember going to Denver and that was a big deal. Remember the movie Smokey and the Bandit? Wasnt that about importing higher alcohol content beer? Or was it another movie...lol.

    I dont know where I stand on this to be honest. I dont know if we drank more or not. I know that once the ability of being legal to buy and drink beer and liquor was there...I didnt much care for it. It was more the thrill of doing something wrong. And it does seem stupid that people can go fight for this country but cant drink a beer. Of course that doesnt stop a one of them. Bars will sell beer to almost anyone in a uniform. Its almost a right of passage in the military.
  7. HereWeGoAgain

    HereWeGoAgain Grandpa

    Well I confess that I am surprised at the responses; I had thought that most parents on this board would agree with the premise that lowering the drinking age would lead to more drinking among 18-to-21 year olds, not less, and consequently, fewer alcohol related pathologies in that age group.

    In particular I thought that the contention that HS underclassmen would have much easier access to alcohol if seniors can buy it legally made sense. Of course they can still get it, today, if they want it; it's just harder.

    I would note that some of the counterarguments here (for example, "raising the drinking age doesn't prevent underage drinking") are against arguments that never were made in Mr. Chapman's piece at all or that were already addressed in the piece; I'd encourage you all to read the whole thing, not just the excerpts I posted (click on the link). In particular: of course raising the drinking age to 21 did not make underage drinking go away; hopefully no one is so naive as to think so. Nor do drunk-driving laws prevent drunk driving. But as Mr. Chapman points out, it's not all-or-nothing: the law does not have to be 100% effective in order to have a positive impact.

    I recognize that all age limits are more or less arbitrary. Some 16 year olds are way more mature than some people twice their age (just look at my difficult child!). But in general, 21-year-olds are much more capable of making good choices than 18-year-olds. Then again, someone will point out, 25-year-olds are much more capable than either, so why not raise the age to 25? Or 50? Well, it's a balancing act -- I could take the opposite tack and say, why not 16? Or 12?

    I just think that Mr. Chapman's statistics that he quotes (and I have no reason to think they are cherry-picked, since I've seen reports on the correlation for years now) do strongly indicate that lowering the drinking age will have a negative net impact.

    As for the libertarian argument (the one which goes, "It's the parent's business, not the government's") -- well, I have some sympathy with that. I am curious, though, would you then advocate legalization of all drugs? Again, I think, it is a balancing act between reasonable limits and individual liberty/parental autonomy.

    Oh, and I have no problem with parents allowing their older children to have a glass of wine at the dinner table, actually I think that is probably healthy as it eliminates the mystery/rebellion factor (but then again, would not the same be true of, say, marijuana?).
  8. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    HWGA - Our papers have had op-eds on this daily since the original story broke as well as excerpts from articles printed in papers around the country. Plus, I've been reading about it on line for a couple of years now. That's likely why there are references to other ideas not addressed within Mr. Chapman's article that you've pasted here.

    I have strong opinions about it. In fact, my H and I can't even discuss it without one of us getting up and leaving the room!! Haha.
  9. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    Despite what the article says, if an 18 year old can be responsible enough to vote, go to war, own property, sign legally binding contracts, get married and be held accountable for their actions - or charged with crimes - as an adult in the same manner as a 21 year old then s/he must be responsible enough to drink.

    It's hypocrisy any other way.
  10. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    I agree with Wynter.
    My brother is significantly older than I am, and has 3 very successful daughters. Drinking was something he allowed his girls to do - in the home, supervised, not taboo, etc. As they got older, he even let the girls bring friends into it (WITH PARENTAL PERMISSION). Also keep in mind they lived in a VERY rural area.
    By the time the girls were on their own, the "appeal" and rebelion factor of alcohol was gone. They experienced their first "too much" in the safety of their home. They learned their limits in the safety of their home. And I, personally, think that's an invaluable lesson. They both drink occassionally, they both call for rides when they need to, etc. They just learned to handle alcohol, just like they learned to handle everything else - with mom and dad's guidance.
    I modeled a lot of my parenting after my brother, including this (except the friends part). difficult child 1 was caught drinking long before I allowed him to at home. easy child 1 is just like the girls - responsible. difficult child 1, I beleive, is an alcoholic. He drank different from the beginning when I allowed him to - his drinking is not social, he drinks to be drunk. He is Native American, both bio parents are addicts and/or alcoholics. I did not introduce him to drinking, but I beleive having seen him drink may put me in a better position to help him when/if he ever addresses his problem. The one mature conversation we had while he was home on leave was about his drinking - he is starting to realize he's got a problem. Had I been a parent that hadn't allowed alcohol til 21, that's a conversation we wouldn't have had. So I think even tho the goal was not reached with difficult child 1, it was also not all lost on him, either...
  11. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I live in a college town. Have since age 13 when my mom got a professor's position at the University. I turned 18 the year they made it 21 to drink. It didn't matter to me because I worked at a small business and SOLD beer. For graduation my boss gave me a few CASES of beer and wine cooler. I didn't drink. Maybe a wine cooler once in a blue moon, but not usually.

    Our police have ALWAYS been very vigilant about underage drinking. They don't let anyone slide. Never have, that I know of. this includes the campus police, the city police and hte county sheriffs.

    I am TOTALLY against lowering the drinking age. We are finally seeing real results on combatting drinking and driving. I don't want to be around if they lower the age to drink.

    I DO think that ANYONE serving in the military should be able to buy any kind of alcohol and get into any club, period. If they can put their lives on the line to serve in this time of war, they should have ALL the rights of any other adult.

    My state HAS 3.2 beer. It is ALL you can buy outside a liquor store. You still have to be 21 to buy it. Many people from our state are really taken aback when they travel and order a beer. Simply because other states have beer that is 6%.

    Oh, Smokey and the Bandit was about bringing Coors beer to the East. Coors was not sold in many areas until well after that movie came out. It still wasn't very good beer, but it was regionally distributed only.

    As it was sold in Oklahoma at the time of the movies, it was available in 3.2% alcohol, though it was also available in 6%. I ONLY know this because a friend had a dad who was a bigwig in his field and he paid a guy to go to a state that sold Coors and bring a trunk (car trunk) full of it back for a party - and I helped my friend's mom serve at the party.

    I do think that if enough people age 18-21 cared to legally drink, they would vote to change it. But few people in that age group vote.
  12. mrscatinthehat

    mrscatinthehat Seussical

    It's funny I grew up in a house where drinking wasn't a big deal. I don't remember how old I was when I had my first sip of wine. I know that I was allowed to have it when everyone else did. They bought me my own wine coolers when I was in high school (to be drank at home) so it wasn't a big deal most of the time.

    My brothers fell into the catergory of my oldest could drink at 18 but the other one that was 15 monthes younger had to wait until 21. I remember the fight at the time about the injustice and such. Of course I was very young.

    I look at my kids and think well difficult child 1 I wouldn't want to drink now at 18 but easy child could be the most responsible. But those are the things that make them different anyhow. difficult child 1 isn't responsible with most things. easy child is.

    As for the military I think as soon as you don that uniform you should be able to drink.

    So I sit on the fence on this one.

  13. tonime

    tonime toni

    I don't think it is such a bad idea. Personal responsibility needs to be taught to our kids. That is key. Especially getting behind the wheel. Making it legal at 18- would make sense-since you can join the armed services, vote, etc.
    NJ has done good things when it comes to teens driving. Rules such as curfews-for driving/ number of teenagers allowed in one car/etc. has made a big difference.
    As for binge drinking- those who will -- will always find a way.
  14. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    I have mixed feelings on this issue. I think 18 is too young, mostly because it would force high schools to deal with young people who are able to legally buy and consume alcohol. I would feel differently if it were 19 year olds, I think.

    I understand the professor's point of view that illicit drinking encourages drinking games and binging. Kids away from home at college who haven't had experience drinking are likely to over consume and have problems with alcohol poisonings. Bartenders are trained to know when someone has had enough and cut them off or slow them down. I don't trust a group of teenagers to responsibly monitor another teenager's drinking. Also, where you have college kids drinking illicitly, there will always be a 14 - 15 year old who comes to the party. That isn't going to happen in a bar.

    None of us likes the image of our kids tying one on. But most of us don't like the image of our kids having sex or carrying a concealed weapon, so it seems unreasonable that we allow them to do that without monitoring their alcohol intake. Just my .02.

    Reading DDD's note, I had to add that in our state, 18 year old girls are allowed to dance topless in bars that serve alcohol. Go figure. You're old enough to exotic dance in a room full of drunken older men, but you're not old enough to have a glass of wine with dinner?
  15. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    I just read your second post, HWGA. I don't see any real connection between lowering the drinking age and legalizing all drugs. With all due respect, that's apples and oranges. Illegal drugs are illegal for everyone and it is presumed that no one is mature enough to handle them.

    I'm certain that the legal drinking age will always be a topic that people will choose sides on. But I don't think we ever consider throwing the baby out with the bathwater by legalizing all drugs for everyone because the legal drinking age might change.
  16. donna723

    donna723 Well-Known Member

    I'm kind of torn on this one too, but I don't see anything to be gained by lowering the drinking age. That just puts it in to the high schools even more than it already is.

    I remember so well when my kids were very young teenagers and how I was comforted by the fact that they wouldn't be out cruising around in a car full of kids until they were at least 16 - when they and their classmates were old enough to get their drivers licenses (16 then). Was I ever wrong! As soon as their oldest friend or their friends' older brother had that license ... there they were! Not that they were allowed to do this, but they were sneaky little boogers who could look me right in the eye and tell the most shameless lies! They were both quite good at it. That's what I think would happen if the drinking age were lowered to 18 too ... the 18 year olds would be buying it for the 15, 16 and 17 year olds. They already do it here - the kids give a 21-year-old the price of the beer plus $5 or $10 - instant party!
  17. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    I agree, 19 is fair. At least most HSers are out by then.
  18. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I'm one who would be o.k. with an 18 year old drinking age, mainly agreeing with Heather. If we say they are adults and legally responsible for everything else than they should be able to have a drink. Education is important.
  19. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I wish I had saved the english paper I wrote in high school on the subject of teen drinking. This post just made me remember that I wrote a term paper on it in 10th grade...hmmm. I guess that tells you the debate has been going on for decades! That was probably 1978 I think. Yeah...I was 16. Ahhh...no wonder I dont remember a darn thing!
  20. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Well...........I don't have a problem with the drinking age being lowered. But then I'm an old fart and the legal age to drink when I was a kid was 18. There was no legal age for smoking where I grew up.

    See.....I have a bit of a problem with the fact that our 18 year old "kids" can vote and go to war, but we as a nation don't feel they are grown up enough to be responsible about drinking. Nope. Never has sat well with me.

    I didn't allow drinking in the house simply because I don't drink. But easy child did attend a few parental superivised sleepovers where the party included alcohol. I knew the kids, I knew the parents. They took car keys as the kids came in the door and didn't give them back until the next morning. easy child knew she could always call if she was drunk and needed a ride. No questions asked.

    Never had a problem with rebellious drinking or drinking of any sort. easy child attended a couple of these parties and quickly lost interest. Nichole has yet to show an interest. Travis tried drinking a beer not long ago.......turned green.......and hasn't seemed inclined to repeat it.

    I've been lucky, I know. This town is so rural that drinking at any age is one of the main forms of entertainment.