In response to the Amethyst Initiative, an organization of college presidents and chancellors calling for the lowering of the drinking age in the United States, there has been an uproar by many concerned lawmakers, researchers, and parents across the country that believe the idea to be foolhardy. At a very basic level, the initiative is a selfish move by many of the nation’s college presidents to eliminate binge drinking on their campuses, not a complete and relevant look at the topic of binge drinking and underage drinking.
While drinking among those under the age of 21 is both widely prevalent and inevitable, the point remains that underage drinking is frowned upon in American culture.
In France, Italy, Germany, and Great Britain, the lax drinking laws are combined with youths drinking from an early age with their parents, thus making it part of the culture.
In the United States, most parents do not support their children drinking alcohol before it is legally allowed.
Research has shown that, after Reagan signed the Uniform Drinking Age Act in 1984, the number of car accidents significantly lowered in states that implemented a minimum age of 21 than in those that waited a few years. The CDC cites a study by its Task Force on Community Preventive Services that acknowledges a 16 percent decline in crashes among underage youth in states where this occurred.
Furthermore, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, a non-profit organization dedicated to its namesake’s cause, cites similar studies by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration which reveal a decrease in alcohol-related car accidents after all states mandated a minimum age of 21 to purchase alcohol.
They estimate that around 900 lives are saved by the law per year, and that changing the law would have irreparable consequences by way of increased deaths.
Many students at PCC support the initiative by college presidents to lower the drinking age. Understandably, it is a popular concept for those who are above the age of 18 and below 21 to gain the legal right to purchase and drink alcohol.
However, the maturity and responsibility needed to make good decisions while drinking would not necessarily go hand in hand with it.
While it is possible for some young men and women in this age bracket to handle such a new freedom with sensibility, it is not unreasonable to assume that there exist many who would not act accordingly.
College presidents also acknowledged the immaturity of this age group in relation to alcohol within their Initiative.
These university presidents are acting selfishly in overlooking how such a law could affect high schools around the nation by pushing for a lower drinking age because of binge drinking.
If the drinking age was lowered to 18, how many high school seniors around the country would legally be allowed to purchase and consume alcohol? Suffice it to say that there is certainly a great possibility that the drinking problems of college campuses would be “unloaded” upon high schools.
Underage drinking can never be prevented entirely, as most studies have shown. However, if accidental deaths and injuries can be averted by maintaining the law, then it seems absurd to take a second look at legislation that has seemingly saved lives.
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